Savills Brisbane

August 7, 2013

Carr Design constructs a flexible and adaptable workplace for real estate consultant, Savills, which embraces progressive workplace solutions, as well as more conventional modes of working.

Share This

More from this issue

Projects including: Features including:

...and much more.

The Brisbane office of Savills was recently relocated to the middle of Brisbane’s CBD, positioning the firm at the heart of the city’s ‘Golden Triangle’. Although the project was led by the need to adhere to a global brand environment, the relocation afforded the company the opportunity to rethink its foundational premise of the ways in which work is undertaken within the office. With Carr Design Group facilitating the process, the new office has proved incredibly successful. Key implementations have appreciably changed the workplace culture without alienating traditional work advocates; however, the visually intriguing design quirks of Carr have not been overlooked, with a social area that is splendidly layered for maximum appeal to a broad and varied selection of individual needs and tastes.

Public zones are positioned along the edge of the tenancy, engaging with the street outside


With the company occupying the entire second floor, the prospect of the new premises was a sore point for employees, who were leaving behind the panoramic views of their former location. Carr has addressed this by creating a far more engaged experience of the city, as Carr’s director of commercial interiors, Dan Cox, explains, “Moving from a high-rise location along the river to a CBD second floor tenancy, the public zones were positioned to engage with the street and the canopy of iconic fig trees on Eagle Street. This grounded the global organisation in its local landscape.” Moreover, reserving the best views for the open reception and social areas allows the employees to enjoy the view during breaks. It also, importantly, allows them to point out to clients the various buildings that Savills manages within Brisbane’s Golden Triangle of real estate.

A primary objective of the move was the seamless introduction of a more flexible workplace environment. It was also important, however, to accommodate traditional process-based tasks. After exploring activity-based working (ABW) models during the briefing sessions, the team concluded that a combination of both advanced and traditional solutions would be used. “This progressive form of working was adopted by some teams that were highly mobile and required a flexible solution that supported their work style. The set-up seeks to increase collaboration by creating both interactive and focused zones, dependent on the task at hand,” says Cox.

Glazed meeting rooms at the centre of the floorplan are partially disguised by a graphic pattern on the glass


Pre-empting future needs, the entire layout can facilitate ABW, while for current requirements some zones remain conventional and have fixed positions for those teams undertaking more process- driven, desk-bound work. The central portion of the floor is dedicated to utilities and meeting rooms, which affords maximum penetration of natural light
to the peripherally located work areas. Visual cohesion has been achieved through predominantly pale grey furnishings over dark grey carpeting. Carr has brought this combination to life through the inclusion of subtle branding, with acid yellow highlights appearing throughout in unexpected and charming iterations, such as outlining pigeonholes or the glass safety stripe.

A cool palette of grey and silver with flashes of acid yellow creates a visually cohesive space


The primary public space of the whole consists of a large and open reception area leading to a series of glazed meeting spaces, the activation of which was essential to the design. To this end, the intimate view of the vast fig tree and the city is particularly significant in that they function as the backdrop to activity, while the space itself resembles a cafe. This has been achieved with Thonet chairs, cafe tables (Stylecraft), a banquette of soft grey wool and mirror-clad columns that reflect the tree and city back into the room.

The meeting rooms in this environment are partially disguised by a customised graphic film treatment developed by Carr, which serves to limit visual penetration. “This enables a sense of activity and movement created by occupants within the rooms while masking their identity, giving them privacy while conducting business,” says Cox. It also places Savills’ branding within a highly contemporary graphic design dialogue.

Seating booths in the breakout area


Double-glazed and walled with sound absorbing materials, the meeting rooms are far more private than appearances suggest, ensuring Savills’ interactions with clients and contractors, although ostensibly within an open and transparent environment, are in fact highly secure. As Savills’ senior project manager, Carley Finn, points out, “We asked for a design paradox between transparency and confidentiality, and Carr delivered. Transparency is a principle of our organisation’s governance, yet privacy and confidentiality in meetings is essential.” And, while these elements are paramount, the additional soundproofing teamed with integrated technologies equates to enhanced presentation and seminar quality, thereby improving professional interactions between the Savills team and its clients.

To the right of the reception, a large sliding wall bisects the space when necessary or allows the breakout area to be connected as one contiguous area. As Cox explains, “Savills seeks to engage its clients, consultants and affiliates from the moment they walk through the door. The activity in the breakout zone can be showcased instead of hidden away from visitors. This gives a greater sense of visibility to the organisation.”

Since shifting to this style of office, the space has instigated a significant change in the workplace culture. Where previously lunch was eaten elsewhere, employees are now more inclined to bring their own and stay within the office space. The addition of two shower zones – to further accommodate a changing workforce – has also seen an increase in bike riders commuting to work, with Lycra purportedly now a common sighting at breakfast meetings.

The layered breakout area includes bench seating, tables and chairs, bar-style seating and, beyond, a series of booths


The beauty of Carr’s design is at its most apparent in the breakout room. It is a large room, serving a large workforce requiring a considered approach to spatiality and form. Ostensibly, the space is divided into three areas. The main is a flow-through area contiguous with the public area, where the banquette, chairs and tables are continued.

Through the centre, however, a large high island serves to demark the space and provide an alternative arrangement for seating. Deeper still, the island is paralleled by a row of built-in booths, providing smaller and more intimate areas, each topped with a drum pendant light feature (Inlite). Within Carr’s almost faultless attention to conceptual information, the built forms of the booths have been finished with textured panels of brickwork amid the tones of cement. They present an exemplar in intellectual content manifest through design via, as Cox posits, “a subtle nod to the property industry”.

Briefed to create a space that aligned the physical work environment with the global brand, Carr had also to make that space distinct within the local Brisbane market. The group has achieved this by mining the brief for conceptual as well as practical considerations. Moreover, in addressing the changing needs of the workforce and pre-empting future shifts, the group has created an environment of sufficient flexibility. Just as importantly, the very human needs for a visually varied and interactive environment have been retained as paramount.

Leave a Reply

Sign up to Australian Design Review's Newsletter

Receive the latest:

  • news, insights, opinions from the interior design and architecture community
  • coverage on latest projects, videos and new products updates
  • events and job listings.

Sign up now!

Sign up to the newsletter