The new Macquarie Bank office headquarters in Sydney, Australia was designed by Clive Wilkinson Architects (CWA) to be forward-thinking in more ways than one. The building's multifaceted interior is designed to meet the most exacting standards of efficiency found in green star and LEED, reducing its overall energy consumption by 50%. The large-scale project is choreographed according to a radical interior plan where “meeting pods” emphasize work collaboration and employee well-being. Described by the architects as “part space station, part cathedral and part vertical Greek village”, Macquarie Bank’s new design completely reinvents the traditional workplace into an office fit for the 21st century.
Construction on One Shelley Street first began in 2006 and finished in 2009. California-based Clive Wilkinson Architects teamed up with local architects Woods Bagot to design the 330,000 square foot interior. The design features an array of revolutionary technologies that provide transformative and customizable work settings, such as chilled beams that utilize harbor water for cooling and zone-controlled lighting.
The initial concept was to create a new notion for a collaborative workplace. The flexible work platform idea was originally developed by Dutch consultant Veldhoen & Co and is called Activity-Based Working (ABW). ABW was implemented into the design immediately – the architects opened up and animated the ten-story light filled atrium with 26 “meeting pods” that allowed for clear visual communication between pods and throughout the large open space.
Surrounding the atrium is a series of ABW work zones designed to house 100 employees each. Each zone is considered an adaptable neighborhood that eliminates the economic costs associated with changes in business infrastructure and redefining spaces. All the zones are connected through a main artery staircase that grants a 50% decrease in elevator usage. This “Meeting Tree” formation is a reflection of the interconnectedness of Macquarie’s client relationships.
The ground level, dubbed “Main Street” is filled with communal spaces conducive to corporate and philanthropic events including a café and other dining areas. Each of the 9 floors above is designed as a plaza and takes inspiration from the suggested interaction archetypes of a square, dining room, garden, tea house, play room and coffee house. An overlapping of business groups is encouraged through the sporadic placement of gathering and meeting spaces.
The Macquarie Bank also succeeds in accomplishing a 78% reduction in paper storage and 53% reduction in printing needs by scanning and distributing documents electronically. Private lockers enable the employees to participate in a mobile work environment by providing a place to store independent items. Trash cans are eliminated from sight, encouraging staff to adjust to a paperless work-style.
Although this new concept in office design sounds super compelling, we’re curious how well the flexible office space will work. CWA positively reports that in the fall of 2009 when most of the 3,000 employees have moved into the new building, 77% of them were excited about the option to change their workspaces regularly and 55% actively do so. Employees are now discovering an increase in knowledge sharing and there is a noticeable acceleration of speed to market. “It’s amazing not [just] because of what it looks like, but because of how it works and what it’s going to do to the lives of the people who work here,” explains Clive Wilkinson, CWA Design Director.