A modern agenda – the reinvented offices of GTP Group are by Woods Bagot
Story by Charles Moxham
Photography by Tyrone Branigan
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The GPT head office by Woods Bagot has a green heart
When it comes to office design, the times really are a-changin' with the enclosed, warren-like cubicles of yesteryear transformed into the open, engaging business environment of today. This is a different type of workspace where facilities are shared, views are broad, the planet is respected, and there is an overall sense of client-company transparency and honesty.
Openness of operation and outstanding sustainability were both high on the agenda when property company the GPT Group asked architectural firm Woods Bagot to transform three levels within a classic Sydney high-rise for their new head offices. After all, a respected firm in the property business is expected to lead by example, says lead architect on the project Amanda Stanaway.
"And the required outcome was demonstrably achieved. The new work environment was awarded 6-Star Green Star certification from the Green Building Council of Australia. This is the first time the rating has been awarded within a building that hasn't undergone major base-build refurbishment."
The GPT office floors comprise levels 50-52 of Sydney's iconic 60-level MLC skyscraper, designed by respected architect Harry Seidler. The tallest building in Australia when completed in 1978, the tower had interiors typical of the time – small, closed-off offices accessed from a central core.
To achieve the new design, green strategies, versatile high-tech services and a sense of the architecturally intrepid all worked together, along with a respect for the iconic building itself.
"Woods Bagot transformed the three levels and, as a result, GPT operations," says Stanaway. "We cut through the floor plates in a limited fashion to create a visual dynamic through the floors, resulting in a three-dimensional stack that would actively promote cross-group communication. Two stairs were introduced into the floorplate – one as part of the client arrival experience, to create a multilayered meeting tree, and the other as part of the rear collaborative work zone, or creative link.
"The fit-out responds to cues in the building, by expressing existing forms and materials and in places exposing the concrete structure."
Formal meeting areas are at the entry, or middle floor, with informal, versatile spaces above and a community area, or Town Centre, on the level below.
"For clients, the impact is dramatic – sweeping stairs snake through the air. There is no reception desk. Instead, guests are greeted by a concierge and shown to their destination," Stanaway says.
"The GPT head offices not only look different, they operate differently. The new environment optimises performance by providing task-oriented wireless and technologically enabled spaces, allowing employees to utilise a range of settings, from concentrated private spaces to collaborative and project-specific settings. There is also a broad range of meeting rooms.
"In this modern, activity-based environment, people have lockers, not desks, and spaces are matched up to the exact size of meeting, privacy level or technological back-up required."
To achieve the high Green Star accreditation several factors were addressed. True to the GPT commitment to the environment, many components from the former fit-out and elsewhere were reused in the new space. Elements included recycled teak wall panelling used as joinery, and timber linings repurposed from a primary school. What could be reused was, and what couldn't was given to charity.
Reuse was complemented by energy-efficient services, such as daylight harvesting, an air quality 20% above standard, and the use of renewable or low-emission materials at every turn.
The GPT workplace is an example of what can be achieved through clever, sustainable design and on a budget similar to models that have gone before – but with a lot less cost to the planet.
First published date: 29 November 2012
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