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Can Hospitality Design In Workplace Environments Help Build Culture?

In preparation for the future and with a nod to the past, the Woods Bagot Perth Studio is an agile workplace with state-of-the-art technology and a distinctive hotel-like aesthetic.

  • Photography by Dion Robeson

  • Photography by Dion Robeson

  • Photography by Dion Robeson

  • Photography by Dion Robeson

  • Photography by Dion Robeson

  • Photography by Dion Robeson

  • Photography by Dion Robeson

  • Photography by Dion Robeson

The Palace Hotel had seen better days before Woods Bagot designed and fitted out its new Perth studio in the heritage-listed building. Built in the late 1890s it operated as licensed premises until being converted into banking chambers and offices in the 1980s. Stripping away its eighties décor, Woods Bagot has transformed the Palace Hotel into a contemporary and agile workplace with a distinctive hotel-like aesthetic.

Recognising that today’s workforce spends more time at work than at home, the design draws on workplace and hospitality principles to deliver a diverse mix of work settings and social spaces. A mezzanine atrium serves as a relaxed, social place to meet and collaborate while also offering space to host industry and community events. The flexible design of the studio provides for autonomy, freedom of choice and movement with free-seating desks, fixed standing bars, lounge areas and enclosed meeting spaces that offer a variety of experiences, including the boardroom that feels like private dining room.

“The ability to easily build micro and macro communities in real time creates an efficiency that enables us in our individual endeavours and means creativity is more dynamic,” says Stirling Fletcher, Workplace Interiors Leader at Woods Bagot. The studio has also been designed to accommodate future growth of up to 20 per cent without any change to the physical environment and up to 60 per cent with minimal design modifications considered in the original approach.

Aesthetically, the contemporary design of the workplace celebrates the building’s history. “Peeling away the layers revealed elements from its Gold Rush origins and indulgent Alan Bond era as well as its notorious reputation as a watering hole for journalists,” Stirling says. The design team took these elements as inspiration while creating a workplace that represented the culture of Woods Bagot. “We wanted to be true to the strong history of place, as opposed to prioritising a ‘Woods Bagot aesthetic’ over being sympathetic to the fabric of the building. To do this we reimagined a contemporary hip hotel aesthetic,” Associate Tenille Teakle explains.

Collaborating with heritage consultants, the design team created a timeless palette influenced by the building’s original features, including American Oregon floorboards, local native timbers, gold leaf accents, plaster mouldings and pressed-tin ceilings, and more recent 1970s concrete slabs. “We consciously chose to restore these finishes to tell the story of The Palace,” Tenille says. They also included pieces by local artists and craftspeople as well as historic photographs and artefacts related to the site and building.

The Palace Hotel has long been about socialising in some form or other, and the Woods Bagot Perth Studio continues that legacy providing productive and social spaces for collaboration. “This means we have built stronger personal relationships and a greater team culture, as well as an immense sense of pride in our space and culture,” says Stirling.

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