Woods Bagot's compelling new workplace for the Australian Queensland Government co-locating nearly 5,000 people from 16 sites and 20 government agencies into a single, ‘connected’ location, has celebrated its first year of occupancy, with the building's property manager affirming "happy occupants" a measure of its design success. It was also commended by the Australian Institute of Architects at the Queensland Architecture Awards (interior architecture category) earlier this month.
The 41-storey building accommodates the Queensland Government Executive and ministerial offices and numerous government departments. As well as making significant savings through the efficient co-location of public servants, there was an intention to foster and support a culture of change across all departments and the workforce. The potential benefits were numerous: greater collaboration and interdepartmental interaction, happier people, improved productivity, coordinated delivery of government services, and the ability to compete with the private sector to attract and retain the highest calibre talent.
Driven by the principles of best practice workplaces, the interior design led an integrated approach that informed the building's architectural form. The response supports the organisational shift from government to corporate, with a large scale plate connected across three-floor villages that results in an efficient and highly productive workplace for team members focused on achieving the best outcomes for the people of Queensland.
Encouraging transparency and collaboration, the workplace interior strategy was designed around a central core that allows daylight to flood the floorplate while capitalising on 360 degree views. Social spaces and agile, open plan collaboration spaces enhance employee connection and collegiality.
Connectivity on and between floors was a key driver to fulfilling the brief. The integrated fitout is arranged around a series of vertically stacked three-level atria (villages) that form a series of community sky gardens functioning as informal working hubs and the social space for each of the floor plates. Wider corridors –designed as laneways through the core – allow for easy movement across the floor plate. They also accommodate integrated breakout spaces which give opportunity for chance encounters to extend into impromptu collaboration.
Woods Bagot principal Bronwyn McColl described the significance of floor plate and spatial planning to provide an efficient and highly productive workplace environment revolutionising how the Queensland public service works.
"The dynamic of the workplace was analysed and tested against efficiency and user experience criteria. Social, collaboration and meeting spaces are centralised around the atrium to encourage greater interaction, hierarchies are minimised and the things that make us feel good – natural light, plants, views out of the building – are maximised.
"It's the expression of a simple idea. We wanted people to enjoy coming to work and to become more productive, which also feels more satisfying. When you give people great facilities to work in and share, they take pride in their workplace and there are undoubtedly better outcomes for the state," said Ms McColl.
The project benefited from a great state sponsor driving the vision and allowing boundaries to be pushed with the fitout, although it took some time. A year, in fact, of testing and pushing of boundaries to come up with the final brief. The flexibility and forethought in the design provides a design legacy that allows the public service to move to a fully agile environment in the future.
"The State knew what they wanted to achieve, but not how. A real challenge was shifting the Queensland public service so far from where it was to set this new benchmark in line with general commercial spaces," said Ms McColl.
Interiors scheme brings the outside in
The overarching design concept for the interiors is informed by biomimicry – a design approach that examines nature’s design methods to generate new spatial solutions. Biomimicry techniques were applied to develop colour, pattern, texture and structure creating a unique and dynamic interior experience. Dedicated themes and visual markers are based on naturally occurring phenomena and are used to demarcate space as a means of wayfinding. Indoor landscaping has been incorporated to activate and ‘green’ central gathering points from which informal gathering spaces lead into collaborative work zones and meeting rooms.
Drawing on the surrounding and broader Queensland landscape, the interiors scheme brings the outside in with the application of natural colours, materiality, patterns and texture. The sandstone walls of the lobby reference Parliament House while the QUT forecourt inspired the stone ground floor foyer which floats as a continuous ground plane from the outside in – it's a modern interpretation sympathetic to the need to create a place to stand the test of time.
Building on a neutral base palette and spotted gum timber, each level of the building takes different cues from the right across the state’s diverse native flora and fauna. The floors are created as visual markers, bringing people to an identifiable floor where a sense of ownership and place is enhanced.
John McBeath, JLL's property manager, commends 1 William Street as a great building to manage and one that has outstripped its sustainability performance goals in under 12 months.
"A building that works well operationally is one that has happy occupants, and 1 William Street works well in both those regards.
"In a relatively short space of time, the building was achieving performance in energy and water use well beyond the original design targets, which is a reflection of the good design and the occupants who are using the building well," Mr McBeath said.
One William Street is Brisbane’s newest 6 Star Green Star premium office tower achieving an As Built v3 6 Star Green Star rating to complement the building’s existing 5.5 Star NABERS energy rating. The rating represents 'World Leadership' in environmentally sustainably building practices.
Innovative features that contribute to its impressive sustainability performance including façade sunshades that vary depending on aspect and sun exposure, automatic blind controls, LED lighting throughout the office areas, rainwater and condensation collection for landscape irrigation and lift energy regeneration.
Dominating the Brisbane skyline, the building is a distinctive emblem for the city positioned within an invigorated public realm and mixed use lifestyle precinct that connects the CBD to the Brisbane River.
At ground level, the building is lifted so that it appears to float over a dynamic network of pedestrian and view corridors that connect the site to its surroundings. The form of the tower is angled away from the Brisbane CBD; it sits sensitively within the immediate CBD context while looking west towards inland Queensland, symbolising inclusion and an ethic of an open, engaged and progressive public service.