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Behind its unusual angled glass façade, this office is designed to provide a positive environment for staff

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Acompany's position in the market can often be gauged from the appearance of its premises and the quality of the interior fitout.

The executives of building contractor Probuild Constructions had this in mind when planning to update their office space and corporate image. They called on SJB Architects and SJB Interior Design for their design expertise. Project director Alan Synman says the brief was to renovate an outdated two-and-a-half-storey 1980s building to provide an efficient and comfortable environment for staff.

"The most important aspect of the fitout was to use quality materials to help establish a professional image in the eyes of clients and visitors," he says.

To improve the exterior appearance, the front façade was removed. It has been replaced with a large expanse of glass, tilting out at a 12° angle.

"This glazed frontage provides the building with a distinctive, contemporary look, helping to identify the company's new corporate image," says Synman.

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"It also creates an interesting effect within the offices and brings them into the streetscape. From the second and third levels you almost feel as if you are in amongst the trees lining the street."

The building's interior was also gutted. The new foyer projects the same sophisticated image with tough, strong materials and colours. Concrete tiles with a polished satin finish complement the cool grey, silver, black and white colour scheme. A textured stacked slate wall at the rear of the foyer provides privacy between the reception and ground level offices.

The same restrained colour palette continues through the rest of the building interior, with an occasional use of red on workstation partitions providing a bold splash of colour.

Also providing visual impact is a central timber, glass and steel staircase. It rises up through the offices from the centre of the reception area, while for added staff convenience a second staircase is located at the far end of the offices.

To introduce light into offices in the centre of the building, an old light well has been transformed into an internal garden with paving and bamboo plants.

A mezzanine level was extended to create a full third level. This, and the mid-level of the building, contain offices of varying sizes depending on their function, including directors' offices, board and meeting rooms, an anteroom and a staff lunchroom with a kitchen. To ensure these spaces can be used effectively for a variety of purposes, large doors can be opened up between the boardroom, anteroom and lunchroom, creating an entertainment space to accommodate 100 people. This area also opens onto a large timber deck.

"Because many staff work off-site, it is important to have a space where everyone can gather comfortably together each week," says Synman.

As much of the company's business is project-based, workstations needed to be flexible enough to suit the needs of different staff. To achieve this, the offices are fitted out with Schiavello's partitioning systems and workstations.

First published date: 23 March 2004

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Credit List

Location Probuild Constructions, South Melbourne
Architect SJB Architects
Interior design SJB Interiors
Main contractor Probuild Constructions
Flooring Sadler stone tiles
Wallcoverings in reception Glass from Pilkington; Laminex Azteque; stacked Mintaro slate; Alpolic wall finish
Fitout Manufactured by Schiavello
Desking and partition system Schiavello Millem