Creating a soothing workplace environment is continuing to move up as a desired requirement on client briefs. This project considers workplace wellness in an all-new way.
November 5th, 2019
In 2019, an office is no longer simply a space to work. It is a drawcard, a content platform and, in the case of Energy and Water Ombudsman Victoria’s new Melbourne headquarters, a sanctuary. And it’s no wonder: the not-for-profit organisation functions in part as an impartial dispute resolution service. High numbers of complaints from disgruntled customers creates an emotionally-taxing work environment. The challenge for WMK Architecture was to use design as an antidote, which it sought to do by making the mental wellbeing of Energy and Water Ombudsman Victoria’s (EWOV) employees its key consideration.
But WMK’s design for EWOV’s entire floor of Melbourne Central Tower does not look like the typically minimalistic, muted interior style that’s become emblematic of the contemporary ‘wellbeing’ aesthetic. Aside from a generous peppering of greenery, the Melbourne arm of WMK’s practice has rejected those expected visual cues, instead drawing upon a concept altogether more unexpected: ‘a tranquil river walk in the Australian landscape.’
To realise this vision, WMK harnessed the full colour spectrum of Australia’s natural world to evoke feelings of calm and warmth. A neutral canvas of mineral greys and timber offsets tones of sea-foam green and red earth in a confident display of native influences. A redesign of the floor plan allows for more haphazard interaction between staff, where a mottled blue pathway leads teams through various zones; a flowing tributary encouraging seamless collaboration and communication.
At the heart of the space, a main hub is delineated by timber floorboards and is split into two sections: one elevated onto a modest platform. Within this central zone, large ocean-blue pods in spherical frames offer up playful, safe havens for small groups. A generous conference room with fully retractable doors offers both literal and metaphorical openness. Opposite, smaller meeting rooms suggest a more intimate and flexible workspace dynamic.
It’s here in this hub that WMK’s use of a rich shade of burnt clay is fully realised, subtly injected in the framework of glass walls as well as in the gauzy curtains that gently shield those behind them. At the perimeters of the space, overlooking a bustling cityscape below, staff are encouraged to pause on soft lounge chairs in sunset tones of peach and grey.
WMK’s strategy to counteract a highly-charged atmosphere relied on equal parts function and beauty. It’s the tactics its designers employed that highlights how far workplace design has evolved in recent years, showcasing a leap into a realm that takes conceptual themes and abstract references to create spaces that are delightful – even literal – expressions of an organisation’s purpose. At EWOV, vibrant material selection and deft spatial planning has resulted in a clever, fluid office that honours the role at the company’s heart. More than this, EWOV’s new home captures the thing that is central to all strong human-driven design outcomes: a clear vision that puts people at its core.
We think you’ll enjoy this thought piece about workplaces as high-performing sanctuaries. Never miss a beat, join our mailing list for all the latest inspiration.
A searchable and comprehensive guide for specifying leading products and their suppliers
Keep up to date with the latest and greatest from our industry BFF's!
Australia’s leading producer of solid-engineered oak flooring has recently launched a new suite of innovative resources to support creativity and ambition in the architecture and design community.
In the bid to balance the desire to live amongst nature with the modest footprint of today’s homes, designer Victoria Azadinho Bocconi looks for inspiration in the depths of the Amazon jungle.
Natural forms meet technological sophistication to produce GH Commercial’s Pattern Perfect® Native Collection of carpets. Step inside the factory to see how local flavours inform the design.
The workplace has changed – and it will continue to evolve. With dynamism at the heart of clients’ requirements, architects and designers at leading practices such as Elenberg Fraser are using and recommending Herman Miller’s OE1 products for the future workplace.
How does Domenic Alvaro oversee a project from start to finish? Timothy Alouani-Roby met with the Woods Bagot director and global design leader to find out why editors make the best architects and architects the best editors.
With a concept that is at once strikingly new and yet familiar, Lifesize Plans offers a different angle on design. Whether it’s in the process or finished product, projecting plans at real-life scale for people to walk through is an idea with potentially far-reaching consequences.
There has been a shift in the way we approach the home office. Gillian Serisier rounds up 43 design products, from shelving to seating, accessories, soft furnishings and more, to make your home office a place you crave to be.
The internet never sleeps! Here's the stuff you might have missed
The Living Space category at the 2023 INDE.Awards showcases homes that are innovative, multi-detailed and beautifully resolved. This category affords the chance to explore what makes a house a perfect home and sets the bar high for residential design right across the Indo-Pacific region.
ARM Architecture took inspiration from Kane Constructions’ gritty urban surrounds to deliver a dynamic workplace as exciting as it is functional.
Voom has it all with superb design, comfort and functionality. A new collection from uber Australian designer Adam Goodrum for Tait is launched and outside living will never be the same again.
We have all felt it and continue to experience the ramifications of change. It’s in the air and workplace design is at the vanguard of creating new approaches to working. Design leads the way at the 2023 INDE.Awards as the spotlight shines on The Work Space category and a partner who has recently made a historic change on a global scale.