How to build a relevant and modern workplace in a traditional high-rise space for a large group of architects is an interesting problem.
We all think moving into a high-rise office building is convenient, but it is also more than that – it enables us to engage with the city itself and the suburban areas beyond. The Eggleston, MacDonald and Secomb-designed building at 385 Bourke Street is one of the few in Melbourne to have been built at an angle counter to the CBD grid. The simple workplace plan on the 25th floor exploits that geometry and the building’s framed views of Melbourne’s CBD. It suggests an office floorplan can be part of a bigger urban idea.
There is no hierarchy of work spaces here - we can think and work at a desk; think, work and collaborate in the lounge and meeting spaces; or even think and work from home.
The materiality here is modest to the point of utilitarian. The high-rise core is wrapped in dark glossy metal cupboards that double as pin-up / note boards. As a pin-up zone, it is always active and it forms one edge of the internal circuit /street - always with views of the cityscape. The activity along the inner border of the workspace, maps the ever-changing activity of various project teams, and the wall fades and shifts as projects move through their various cycles.
A series of spaces for a variety of tasks have been created and a casual ambience is alluded to through the varied workplace settings. The few simple raw finishes - black writable and magnetic surfaces, solid timber walls and ceilings, warm textural carpets, soft translucent curtains and vastly contrasting levels of light throughout, generate a mixture of open and intimate spaces - present a working atmosphere offering an immediate and equitable engagement with the cityscape beyond the framing of the building’s facade.
So, can a modest office fit-out be part of a broader urban idea? It may seem a bit of stretch, but what high-rise workplaces sometimes do is provide spaces that are disengaged from where and what they are. Whereas our workspace likes to think of the City as An Idea and it does what it needs to engage with that idea