Bates Smart continues to challenge the way offices are being designed with the recently completed Brisbane office for Australian law practice, Corrs Chambers Westgarth.
Breaking the traditional mould of law firm design, the new legal workplace at One One One Eagle Street is the first of its kind in Brisbane, and focuses on creating an open and flexible work environment that fosters a culture of transparency and collaboration.
These goals were achieved by an open plan layout that seeks to break down traditional silos and offer both physical and visual connectivity between all four levels, while encouraging knowledge sharing and collaboration among and between teams.
However this non-conventional approach, which goes against the typical private office layout often held in high regard by the legal profession, was met with some cultural challenges – challenges that Bates Smart overcame by introducing new types of spaces and tapping into the benefits of technology.
“By taking away the traditional corner offices that the profession expects, we had to replace them with something equally valuable,” explains Brenton Smith, Studio Director of Interior Design at Bates Smart.
“The luxury feel of the finishes, tailored technology, and high ratio of quiet rooms located immediately adjacent to the workspace makes it easy for staff to move between work points and select the work environment to best suit their needs. They have to be able to grab their phone and laptop and move into a quiet space quickly.”
Client facing areas and café combine luxury hospitality design with corporate efficiency, so that both staff and clients can interact and connect, as well as maintain levels of productivity.
A luxurious feel, such as that experienced on first class airlines, is reflected in the workstations which have a chevron mitred top with waterfall edge profile, and finished with perforated leather capping, premium milled fabric and custom re-toned timber veneer.
The bespoke timber veneer is also used throughout the office on joinery, wall and ceilings elements, as well as the storage units finished with an automotive grade paint finish.
The diamond timber louvers, which are an important screening device in the client meeting rooms, are a design element from the Corrs national design philosophy that has been used in other Corrs fit-outs.
Another key design tenet was working with the architectural qualities of the Eagle Street building (pictured right), which features base building columns that are classified as public art, and referencing the local environmental context without being overtly themed.
“We’ve taken cues from the fig tree columns, which snake up the external façade of the building in the design. These soft organic elements contrast with the hard materiality of the structure,” says head designer Hayden Crawford on creating a distinctly Queensland feel.
“We have also drawn on Queensland’s iconic Great Barrier Reef in the colour palette which adds a fresh and vibrant feel to the fitout, whilst still maintaining the underlying Corrs palette of stone floors and neutral hues.”
The design has met with great response from the clients, with Corrs partner and CEO John W.H. Denton AO saying staff are benefitting from the new fitout.
“Our clients love it, too,” he adds. “The café and event spaces work equally well for business breakfasts, events and impromptu meetings. Our staff enjoy taking their meetings into these less formal spaces, which encourages clients to feel integrated into the business.”
Corrs is the first major law firm in the country to move to a full open and flexible office environment, and its Brisbane office is part of a national design rollout being delivered by Bates Smart that kicked off in Sydney’s 8 Chifley Tower.
The designers played with materials to give the illusion of an indoor/outdoor look and feel. For example, the stair void screen provides both transparency and privacy much like natural foliage, while the continuous Barrisol light above the four level void subtly changes colour throughout the day to mimic the sky seen through a skylight.
The perforated metal screen provides a permeable privacy feature in an accent colour that is reflected in the rugs and upholstery throughout. The colours reference those found in the Great Barrier Reef. The screen design, in folded perforated metal sheet, is inspired by the geometry found in design elements used in the client space, floor tile pattern and the diamond timber louvers, with subtle references to the base building columns of the facade.
Practice Team: Project Leader: Hayden Crawford, Associate, Bates Smart
Full Team: Brenton Smith, Hayden Crawford, Julian Anderson,
Emma Sommers, Lucy Matthews, Trung Ha
Structural Engineer: Arup
Services Engineer: Medland Metropolis
Lighting Designer: Electrolight
Construction Team: Main Contractor: Buildcorp
Project Manager: Pepper
Photography by Christopher Frederick Jones