View up into the building
NAB 700 Bourke Street
Principal and Design Director while at Woods Bagot Australia
63,000sqm (678,000sqft) NLA
National Australia Bank (NAB) is a global financial firm headquartered in Australia.
This building is part of a wider NAB portfolio but it is the location of this building, between 500 and 800 Bourke Street, which allowed us to create a meeting point and a new typology of building, which brings NAB's people together in a very open and accessible way; to generate a community building.
Business and social networks are getting more complex in our working and social lives, we therefore need different spaces and places for people to come together and share those experiences and trade knowledge. As we learn to work more flexibly in different locations with new technologies, we need a reason to come to the office.
I worked closely with the NAB leadership team over a 3 year period to develop an integrated interior solution for a new agile working environment. Over 6,000 people are working in the 14 storey building with 100% of the agile workers living in a non-dedicated environment with a flexible team hub configuration. Amenity support includes a child care centre for 60 children, roof top gardens, community auditorium, café and well-known co-working Village. As the design director I led this project from the win to the final site defect over a three year period and covered all areas including an intense strategy phase which redefined agile working and how a building can be developed to express how an organization works on the inside.
If I was asked what this building is about, I would say that we've created a physical version of what Facebook did for the online community. It is a building that builds communities and challenges the “norm”. It allows people to share ideas and innovations easily by removing barriers, increasing mobility and providing a choice of spaces to work. We have moved beyond the analogue desk being at the centre of people’s lives to a digital mobile, flexible, and fluid menu of spaces creating a new type of workspace. The building is open and connected visually and physically to encourage people to move and seek working relationships.
It is not flashy or polished, in fact it is quite the opposite. Only 30% of the ceilings have been installed and the extent of exposed concrete sends a message to NABs customers and shareholders. The team sought to understand exactly what “authenticity’ meant for the physical space. We defined it to be honest to the location, the current economy, the NAB business and materiality. This drove the building triangular motif, colours, unique spaces and finishes. The diversity of space within the 63,000m2 has provided several microclimates for people to choose where they want to work depending on their task, mood, age or gender. Whether that be a small quiet room, large project room, a warm corner or working via wifi on the large roof garden.
After working with NAB to understand their aspirations we identified that a new model was required to improve cross business interaction. We started to look at: "How would a circle fit on this site to create 360 degree visual connectivity?" But after we analysed the opportunities, we worked out that a triangle is actually more efficient for this kind of requirement. It ended up being the perfect solution. A regular floor plate joined at both ends with a support wing acting as the vertical connector. In the centre is a light-filled atria buzzing with social interaction allowing you to “see and feel” the business.
It was important to NAB that the customer and community could enter into, flow through the building and use it as if it were their own; in a similar way that Melbournians have adopted Federation Square. Once you enter into the main internal street you get an immediate sense of activity and movement of both architecture and people in the negative space of the large atria. Soon to be home for 6,000 people, this is a campus on a large vertical scale acting as its own city and behaving as a microsystem.
This dynamic triangular shape allowed us to establish an efficiency in the main deep floor plates while creating corners and nooks for special projects and quiet zones. Adding to the overall dynamic shape are the vertical coloured fissures dividing the 5,000m2 floor plate into bite-sized chunks of space, manufactured to make the 500 people on each floor feel connected but not as if they are sitting in an endless sea of desks. Each floor is organized into flexible teams which accommodate approximately 50 people with flexible workspace surrounding them. These zones are called Hubs and have a menu of spaces associated within their zone designed to increase productivity. There seemed no sense in making people walk several hundred metres to have a quick meeting so each Hub had the ability to stand-alone with all the ingredients for a highly productive team environment.
There is nothing more disappointing than walking into an interior of a building without any reference whatsoever to the external architecture. This was an integrated project, with Woods Bagot providing the workplace consulting, interiors and architecture, so there were big expectations that we had to get it right. It was a complex project with many contributors to get to a great outcome.
Throughout the building there are always references to the inside and outside, hints of how the interior influenced the exterior and vice versa. We worked very closely right across our teams to make sure that it was a harmonious a solution. The fitout was delivered as an integrated solution by Brookfield Multiplex for Cbus Properties.
NAB was the ideal client. Knowledgeable, trusting, always striving for innovation and open to new ideas.
2014 Australian Institute of Architects: Victorian Architecture, Commercial Architecture Award and the Interior Architecture Award