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Vibrant dynamic – Public Trustee - new offices designed by Hames Sharley

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Public Trustee - new offices designed by Hames Sharley

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Compartmentalised, ill-lit and lacking any connection from one to the next – it's not surprising many offices of the past were inefficient.

This was exactly the kind of outdated working environment that the Public Trustee had laboured in, before moving to new offices designed by Hames Sharley. The architects and interior designers were brought on board by the Department for Transport Energy and Infrastructure – Building Management. Claire D'Adorante was project leader on a design that transformed the agency's workplace environment and improved its operations.

The Public Trustee's new offices at 211 Victoria Square are designed to accommodate around 180 staff members. Located on levels ground, 5 and 13 –15, the offices were fitted out with evocative themes running through each floor. Hames Sharley looked to the essence of the role of the public service for inspiration for the fit-outs, says D'Adorante.

"The design team understood that the Public Trustee's services to the Australian community touch on all aspects of the life cycle of citizens and their families, and this led us to a design analogy.

"Different floors have been allocated different seasons – spring, summer, autumn and winter are portrayed through the use of rich greens, reds, oranges and blues. These colours are combined with abstract graphics depicting flowers, leaves, sand and wind to create an individual sense of identity for each floor."


The floorplan for the offices was conceived with strong angles offset against organic forms. Core operations were centralised, with traditional office cubicles kept to a minimum and pushed towards the centre of the floor plate, giving the open-plan, perimeter workspaces optimum natural light.

Contemporary quiet rooms are features of the spaces. Set at oblique angles, the colourful glass boxes are the first elements to greet visitors to the various floors – providing points of reference, a sense of identity and private conference areas.

"The open-plan offices foster collaboration between staff and to further optimise connections, Hames Sharley designed an innovative custom workstation. The workstation encourages team leaders to sit with their teams, not behind a wall."

The Public Trustee fit-out is designed to achieve an ‘in principle' 5-Star Green Star rating for its sustainable strategies. Hames Sharley's ergonomic layouts meant optimising daylight penetration, and providing views for staff. The design strategy saved on construction materials and construction waste by minimising modifications to existing services. The custom workstations designed by Hames Sharley can be added onto rows, with a double managerial workstation at the ends – not only improving communication but also reducing the floor area required.

In addition, locally sourced, low-maintenance, durable, recyclable materials and FSC-certified timbers have been used throughout. Passive design strategies and energy-efficient plant and equipment help reduce energy consumption – partly through use of motion and daylight sensors.

Spokesperson for the Public Trust Sheila O'Reilly says that prior to the move to new accommodation, many staff were concerned about the change to a more open-plan layout.

"They were pleasantly surprised at the design and the collaborative working environment they now enjoy. The open space has encouraged staff in their interaction and communication."

The executive director, Building Management, Judith Carr says the new Public Trustee fitout is an exemplar of the South Australian Government office accommodation standards and design principles.

First published date: 19 September 2011

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Credit List

Location Offices of the Public Trustee, Adelaide, SA
Architect Hames Sharley, director David Cooke AIA, hDIA, GBCA, project leader Claire D'Adorante DIA
Interior design Hames Sharley, Claire D'Adorante, Georgie Shepherd Government Project Management DTEI Building Management, Bryon Andretzke
Construction ISIS Projects
Mechanical and electrical engineer, fire and hydraulic consultant WSP Lincolne Scott
Quantity surveyor WT Partnership
Flooring Carpets by InterfaceFlor, Tretford; timber floors by Embelton
Veneers Eveneer
Paints Grey Pebble and Namadji by Dulux
Feature lighting Inlite
Door hardware Access Hardware
Workstations Customised Transform workstation by Schievello in Laminex Parchment White by Laminex
Chairs Orangebox Ara, from Innerspace;Wilkahn Neos
Reception furniture Armchairs and coffee tables by Jardan from Estilo; ottomans by Stylecraft
Additional furniture Boardroom tables by Wilkhahn, meeting tables by Schiavello, boardroom chairs Herman Miller Setu; quiet room chairs, moulded plywood by Eames; breakout furniture Geneva tables, Toro Stools by Schiavello, Andreu World Smile Chair, filing cabinets by Planex Awards Design Institute of Australia (DIA) South Australian Chapter People's Choice Award 2010 Australian Institute of Architects 2011 Architecture Awards, South Australian Chapter Public Trustee commendation award – Interior Architecture