How can designers and architects bring luxury into the commercial sector? Easy. From the ground, up.
February 22nd, 2017
In their own words, DEXUS Property Group aspires “to be globally recognised as the leading owner and manager of Australian office property”. So, to revolutionise over 1.8million square metres of office space across the country for their clients, DEXUS’ own office has to stack up strongly to such a hefty mission statement.
In fact, their mission statement was so confident that I had to go and see their premises myself. In short: I was not disappointed.
Located in the beating heart of Sydney’s CBD, the DEXUS Property Group offices occupy some of the uppermost floors of the city’s famed Australia Square building – the original brainchild of one of our country’s most renowned architects Harry Seidler.
Showcasing many of the building’s original features, the Woods Bagot team that headed-up the project stripped back interiors to expose the building’s raw, radial concrete form.
The finished result is striking. As soon as you enter, you notice that your sightline will go on-and-on-and-on – an inspired touch that echoes the building’s circular structure. In combination with the radial layout of working zones, utilities and storage, all built areas are kept at a dramatic distance from the core to emphasise the office’s staircase centrepiece.
Designed to cantilever between floors, this staircase descends through a theatrical void from the upper level – an intriguing architectural feat that allows the space to brim with natural light. And while this staircase – undoubtedly an engineering marvel that does away with the need for supporting interior columns – steals the show for many, I was more intrigued by watching people navigate through the space.
You see, on the day of my visit, this space was buzzing with activity. To my left I watched three people stand by the expansive wrap windows, laughing, chatting and flicking through the minutes of a meeting that was about to start; at the other side of the room on a luxuriously deep powder blue sofa a consultant briefing was underway; and right next to me on a deep plum-coloured bucket chair was a DEXUS employee who had just arrived from Perth to Sydney, was terribly excited about her first visit to this city, and happily spent the next few moments telling me about the culture of the DEXUS family. While I was very appreciative of her time and thoughts, I now know that I needn’t have interrupted her in the first place. After all, the evidence was right in front of me.
This is a professional world that respects the value of collaboration and community to such an extent that nurturing human relationships is not solely a catch-cry emblazoned across their corporate collateral, but is central to the design process of their spaces. I noticed, in particular, the quiet ingenuity of the office’s spatial attuning. No walls, no cordoning-off. It felt rather like being inside someone’s home. Gone were the aloof corporate formalities and sequestration of spaces into rigidly designated activity areas, and in their stead you begin to notice how passively and gently you’re coerced by the elements in the space’s design to interact ‘how you please’.
Here, a client meeting can occur less than two metres away from an executive presentation – and comfortably(!). Instead of partitioning the capacious space into smaller and smaller versions, the design team has chosen to dramatically alter the landscape of the office’s textures. Here a ceiling will modulate between matte acoustic tiles, and there blonde timber cladding. Here the floor will echo the building’s dove grey polished concrete, and there you suddenly find Yves Klein Blue or aubergine cashmere underfoot.
As one of the DEXUS office’s many inspired design features, these Tretford Custom Rugs – made and supplied by the team at Gibbon Group Architectural – punctuate the floorplan with little enclaves of retreat, activity, communality and creativity. As areas intended to further breakdown those aforementioned aloof formalities of such environments, the rugs are strategically placed at key touchdown and collaborative zones to remove the barriers that traditionally separate client- and internal-work spaces, and thus are a powerful tool for the office’s employees to foster relationships between DEXUS and stakeholders as well as everyone within the DEXUS team.
(As a side note, I couldn’t help myself: I pretended to drop something on one of these rugs so I could feel its softness. It goes without saying, the floor was dressed more luxuriantly than I was – and I was by no small means rather jealous of this fact).
And this is hardly surprising. From the steppes of Mongolia, nomadic goatherds harvest the cashmere of Tretford Custom Rugs by hand – a swiftly vanishing mark of traditional craftsmanship that gives the final product protracted durability and a high degree of comfort. Not only was it impossible for me to spot a fray or flaw (and believe me, I really looked for one), but also I noted the crispness of the rugs’ edges, plushness without pilling, and a richness of colour that most designers would be terrified to specify in high-traffic commercial environments.
Thanks to the team at Gibbon Group Architectural, it’s not difficult at all to see why their Tretford range is loved by Australia’s top-tier ASX companies like DEXUS, or America’s Fortune500 companies like Google. Here is a flooring solution that time-after-time actually delivers what most merely promise: superior and consistent quality and service.
… and, never a hair out of place.
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