In the last few years there has been an increasing interest to develop a good environment in the work place, where employees can not only work effectively, but can enjoy the time that they spend there; the most famous example are Google’s offices around the world. This week, in an effort to know more about their practice, I had the pleasure to visit some of the work places designed by BVN in the CBD.
BVN, composed by Bligh, Voller and Nield, is a famous Australian firm largely involved in a lot of urban, architectural and interior projects around the Country with four offices in Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane and Sydney. Our tour started from the BVN office located on the 11th floor of the Hilton Hotel Complex on 255 Pitt Street.
The office is a renovation of a 70′s commercial office. The first impression when you enter is that of an elegant contrast between the wall’s entrance covered with a light panel timber and the wall that guides you inside of the studio where there are images of the projects framed in a black layout. Suddenly on your right you can see a part of the big windows at the end of the corridor that frame the cupola of the Victoria’s Building.
The big open space is characterised by concrete floors that were maintained from the original project in contrast with the silver covering of the wiring system of the ceiling. The visual organisation of the open space office, where the people can see each other from every corner of the room, is only interrupted by thin steel columns that support the electric cable for every desk.
Along the side of the Pitt St. facades is a veranda. That space represents a relaxed area, but is also a meeting point to discuss projects, characterised by big windows, a light timber floor and a plastic panel wall where there are sketches, pictures and drawings attached. The office is such a smart design, because it creates a flexible space that includes sliding doors and walls that create closed spaces for private meeting on the corners of the room.
The second stop is the Challenger Offices just six floors down in the same building. The three-floor office was completed in 2007. The main focus of the project is a central atrium space that houses an inner staircase that connects the three levels physically and visually and creates meeting places around it. The offices around the stairs are organised as open space, with coloured boxes that hold private meeting rooms.
The visual connection between all of the floors and the big windows of the facades create a bright and comfortable space, enriched by an elegant choice of furniture. BVN won the 2010 RAIA NSW Interior Architecture Awards for this project. Just around the corner, on 420 George Street, we can find the Aecom Sydney Workplace.
The project was completed last year and it is the last of a long series of collaborations between Aecom and BVN. The 11,500 sq m project is developed into 9 floors, and it is thought to hold 850 people who were previously located in five different offices.
The project was developed after the design of the building and structure was already realised. For that reason, the creation of the big hall and the stairs that connect all of the floors is the result of a strong collaboration between BVN and the engineering team. The space is organised into three areas: services and meeting rooms, open space offices and a veranda. The veranda is a relaxed space located just in front of the big window facades that frame a huge view of the Sydney CBD. In that area, the wiring system is uncovered to represent one of the activities of the company.
The two stairs represent a good example of interaction between designer and engineer. The central one is irregularly shaped and the second one located on the side of the facade is supported by a big steel beam that also works as a handrail.
One of the most curious details of the office is the garden on the terrace that in some way represents the contribution of the workers in the development of the office: plants and flower brought from many countries and mixed together in the gorgeous CBD’s view.