The design for this globally orientated workplace in Sydney holds a number of intriguing binaries in refined tension – heritage and contemporary, timeless and progressive, office and hospitality, professional and convivial. The juxtaposition of seemingly contradictory elements continues through to the Scandinavian-inspired joinery, a restrained approach to detailing that sets up a striking contrast with the ornate detailing of the building’s Victorian detailing. With hospitality functions threaded in, the design also ensures that users can transition from daytime coffee to evening drinks.

Like much of the hybridisation we are seeing in workplace design, Cox Architecture’s project creates much more than an ‘office’. Rather, the concept here drives at the workplace reimagined as clubhouse. The brief called for a design that imbues space with a progressive spirit while maintaining, and obviously working within the constraints of, a heritage-listed building.

“The brief was to create a workplace reimagined as a clubhouse primarily to provide their clients with a discreet and convivial place to engage but also as a magnet for the brightest minds in the world of strategic advisory,” explains Director, Brooke Lloyd (who also recently starred in Your Moment INDESIGN).

Functionally, rooms are catering to more than standard workplace space. The emphasis is on changes of speed and atmosphere, and facilities catering to the needs of a workplace with a global client base.

Meeting rooms, for example, feature advanced audio-visual technology, while the overall spatial character ranges from airy workspaces to warm, moodily lit hospitality areas. With a hatted chef on hand to provide lunch, it’s clear that the standards had to be high – standards that straddle workplace and hospitality design.

Related: Hub Martin Place by Hassell

Samantha Ellinson, Senior Associate at Cox Architecture, says it would be wrong to think of workplace and hospitality typologies in strict opposition to one another. “The poetics of hospitality need never take away from the pragmatics of function,” she says. “Rather, they can be interwoven in order to drastically enhance the workplace.”

A cocktail bar and lounge has been crafted to pivot between moods and atmospheres, particularly from day to night. This is where the space is designed to transition from coffees to martinis, and it’s also where the client’s clients are welcomed to the HQ. “They set the tone of the workplace by being the first experience upon entering – a convivial, welcoming and warm tonality creates instantaneous encounters and exchanges. This is where relationships are built, which is a core aspect to any workplace,” adds Ellinson.

Furniture selections include both vintage and new, while decorative choices have been made with careful attention to the balancing act of keeping things convivial yet professional. There are intriguing works of sculpture and art in experimental media from Anya Pesce and Henryk, complemented by the overall curation of colour palettes.

The designers also explain how they approached the task of balancing heritage with modern functionality: “We took a timeless approach, with a balance of classic finishes such oak herringbone flooring, walnut and brass joinery. This was balanced with a high-tech backbone […] A variety of ways of working are catered for on the upper levels, with quiet spaces for deep work tucked away into the back of the heritage fabric, adjacent to the open workspaces, which take up a series of interconnected rooms.”

Talk of balancing old and new can of course be a cliché and the threading of hospitality elements into the workplace is an increasingly popular design option in Australia – at Diageo by Woods Bagot, for example, or Hub Martin Place by Hassell. With heritage exterior and programmatic requirements straddling workplace and hospitality, things could have gone horribly wrong in this case but Cox Architecture has achieved it with refinement and an exquisite attention to detailing.

Cox Architecture
coxarchitecture.com.au

Photography
Alec Bruce-Mason  

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