The Challenge

To successfully relocate a highly cellular organisation into a newly purchased Romanesque-detailed federation-brick Briscoe Iron Merchants Building, which had sat empty for more than 40 years. Made more difficult by high-value heritage structure and envelope considerations, including an original stair and hydraulic goods lift connecting all 3 floors.

The Solution

A ‘no-touch’ philosophy was the catalyst for a Russian Dolls Detailing approach, resulting in 3 stories of white ‘pods’ with perimeter circulation. The pod colour differentiation draws out beautiful key features of the original brick and herringbone strut construction. The heritage listed stair and glazed hydraulics lift have been revitalised to act as light wells, bringing sunlight deep into the heart of the building. Reinterpretation, with new function, ensures these internal elements remain both showpieces and functional. The implementation of centralised pods, with perimeter circulation retain a contemporary sense of openness, while democratising daylight, made possible via glazed common office walls parallel to the street. Each office has the unusual inclusion of substantial integrated storage, increasing efficiency and flexibility. The storage within each office is concealed with doors that can be written upon, reducing paper use. Heritage-listed herringbone strutting is exposed while removing the requirement for otherwise superfluous ceiling construction. Although assisted by the bare, temperature-consistent mass of 600mm thick brick building shell, no circulation spaces are conditioned directly, receiving coolth and warmth from office bleed only.

Results

To watch a member of staff give guest tours through the building – you can see there is a sense of pride and belonging within their new place of work. The entire build is an exercise in minimalism, utilising the existing shell to its maximum potential. New build materials have been kept to a minimum count, while new life has been successfully breathed into a 110-year-old building.