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Finlaysons fitout comes complete with a fresh perspective

In designing Finlaysons Lawyers’ new Adelaide headquarters, Hames Sharley balanced a quintessential paradox of interests faced by conservative practices in the contemporary world: the need for collaboration versus confidentiality.

By the time the designers of Hames Sharley were engaged, Finlaysons Lawyers had been operating from its previous Adelaide premises for over 30 years. That’s not to mention the stalwart nature of the 150-year-old law firm in the grand scheme of Australia’s legal profession.

By no means a minor piece of work, this relocation of one of Australia’s most well-established law firms’ headquarters represents a shift in strategic and cultural direction, while respecting and amplifying an enviable legal heritage at a time of generational change.

Championing a contemporary, activity based approach to workplace design, Hames Sharley worked with Finlaysons to understand the exact tasks important to the law practice’s future success, and identify the types of spaces needed to support those make-or-break activities. Strategically speaking, the designers leveraged the opportunity to challenge and explore the real meaning of ‘confidentiality’, in collaboration with the conservatively-inclined law firm.

In the resulting office fitout, the need for spaces of high individual focus and confidentiality has been delicately balanced with the desire for improved collaboration, which is perceived as the catalyst for cultural change. The longing for improved collaboration led to a mix of alternative spaces, organised as nodes throughout the floorplan, to encourage movement, interaction and knowledge sharing. Such spaces include a large, playful destination kitchen breakout space; a series of relatively intimate open meeting areas; a knowledge centre; and a more formal client suite. These spaces “support the reduction in offices and the increase in open-plan workstations and are all united by a design concept informed by South Australian landscape and an overriding aesthetic of ‘home’,” says Hames Sharley.

The concept of ‘home’ is a functional response to the needs of both clients and staff using warm colours, abundant planting, natural materials and feature lighting to provide an atmosphere of welcome and support. Profiled wall panels in feature areas complement the striking facades of the base building.

Amongst the project team were Services and Acoustic engineers, Certifier and Cost Consultants. The tight collaboration with graphic designers from Elevation makes for a key differentiator in this fresh office scheme, injecting new corporate colours, integrating the history of Finlaysons and elevating the atmosphere of domesticity through large-scale bespoke artwork.

The greatest contribution however, “came from Finlaysons themselves, with an entirely engaged partner group that openly discussed their challenges and strengths,” says Hames Sharely.

The domestic environment, the democratisation of space, sensitive zoning, deep respect for client experience and the dramatic increase in collaborative settings has resulted in a cultural shift, greater productivity and broader employee engagement. The result is a new beginning for an established firm that is technology-driven and multi-skilled, in an ever-changing legal landscape.

Photography courtesy of Hames Sharley

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