COX Architecture responds to future needs in Brisbane workplace

Feb 1, 2022
  • Article by Charlotte Huston

Situated in Brisbane’s CBD, Midtown Workplace by COX Architecture is a sustainable and nimble model that accommodates the future of the workforce.

Midtown Workplace spans nine levels and was designed with the brief to create an adaptable workplace that responds to the evolution and progression of the client’s business, story and community connection.

The new workplace explores an alternative to standard workspaces creating a diverse and blended model that is supported by a high proportion of hackable and collaborative areas.

To find out more about the project, as well as what the future of the workplace entails, ADR caught up with COX director and workplace specialist Brooke Lloyd.

The traditional workplace model is no longer feasible for the future.

ADR: Hi Brooke! Thanks for chatting with us today. What do you think are the points of concern with the future of the workplace in Australia?

Brooke Lloyd: A major issue confronting post-Covid workplaces is enticing people out of their homes. The future workplace can no longer be just a commercial space – it must inspire.

This has driven our experience-based design for Midtown Workplace. The space is seen as a garden that cascades through the atrium and spills out onto a sky terrace, a series of voids and volumes provide connectivity and activation.

Greenery was used to avoid a polarising brutalist look.

ADR: How did you address these concerns in Midtown Workplace?

Lloyd: We integrated spaces that allow staff to safely gather as an entire organisation – allowing all to feel the energy of their community. Humans are social and sensorial beings – we feed off the energy of people and places. This can never be replaced by Zoom.

Issues associated with peaks and troughs in utilisation are addressed through alternative work points within the high street that can be leveraged as expansion work points or collaborative spaces. A nimble workspace with moveable workstations allows teams to reconfigure to suit the task at hand.

The only constant in the workplace of the future – is change.

The office is located in Brisbane’s CBD.

ADR: Midtown Workplace reuses recycled materials from the original building. Why did you decide to do this and did it pose any challenges? 

Lloyd: Sustainability is always one of our first considerations, for this workplace we were fortunate to have a characterful and clever base building to work within.

We strove to explore the tension between the pragmatic and the poetic, doing more with less. We adopted a brutalist approach to the interiors, showcasing the existing concrete structure with as little decoration as possible.

Typically, workplaces are layered environments, the challenge was to reject the standard norms of concealing and wrapping, and maintain a tightly controlled minimal palette centred around the reuse of the concrete structure.

The plants act as a juxtaposition to soften the minimal palette of concrete, aluminum and Corten steel.

ADR: How do the two tangible design features – the central atrium and central high-street – promote the two principles of connection and evolution? 

Lloyd: The tower is a story of two halves, two existing towers connected as one – old structures connected with new.

Our approach to the workplace celebrated this, with the void and bridge links positioned as the connecting piece between two existing towers.

The stair interlaces through the main atrium and a series of offset voids connected by the high-street spine encourages exploration and journey.  

The Pit was created to foster community sentiment.

ADR: What inspired your design for ‘The Pit’ and how does it encourage cultural exchange?

Lloyd: The Pit creates a space to galvanise culture and create a community. It is purposely designed as a dramatic space to create an experience as opposed to a simple meeting space.

The organic form responds to the curved nature of the sky terrace base building envelope and provides a moment of whimsy to the otherwise strictly geometric space.

Photography by Christopher Frederick Jones.

Check out ADR’s lookbook that collated our top ten picks for best Australian workplaces for 2021.

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