Woods Bagot takes top prize at Shaw Contract Design Awards for Perth office fit-out

Jan 3, 2022
  • Article by Charlotte Huston

Woods Bagot’s ABN Group HQ in Perth has won the Large Workplace category in the 2021 Shaw Contract Design Awards.

With more than 700 entries from 37 countries, this year’s Shaw Contract Design Awards was judged by a global group of esteemed jurors, who, for the second time, met virtually to select the five final winners.

Recognising creative vision and inspiring new ways of living, the 2021 competition was fierce and produced an extraordinary group of winners.

The multi-level fit-out reflects upon ABN’s history as a leading construction company.

The practice approached the brief for ABN with the goal of capturing the leading construction, property and finance company’s evolution over the past 40 years.

Its fit-out reflects ABN’s passion for building, commitment to quality, sense of fun and desire to create a warm and friendly experience for all their staff and clients.

With ABN Group’s business divisions consolidating into one central location within a new building, the design team wanted to embrace the concept ‘where together, everyone achieves more’ and balance this with the sense of homeliness that is synonymous with the ABN brand. 

The sunken lounge pays homage to classic ’70s decor.

Woods Bagot says the fit-out was also inspired by ABN’s closely intertwined relationship with the “Great Australian Dream” of homeownership.

“Over time, the Great Australian Dream has meant different things to different people, but at the core is the belief that homeownership can lead to a better life,” the design team explains.

“The dream of homeownership is deeply embedded into the psyche of Australians and continues to evolve with all who live here; immigrants, the modern family, couples and blended families.”

The whimsical phrase “Home Among the Gum Trees” heavily influenced the fit-out and is a nod to the iconic Australian folk song as well as the gum trees that line the building’s exterior.

The workplace provides ample space for socialisation and collaboration.

The housing heritage of Australia was also incorporated into the new headquarters to “create a collection of experiences for different spaces”.

For example, the Hills Hoist clothesline was translated into the stylish hanging rods and curtains that sit above social and collaborative spaces, while the Australian verandah was channelled for the informal Level 1 Business lounge.

Elsewhere, the ’70s retro Australian aesthetic informs meetings rooms through abstracted gum leaf and forest canopy patterns and Indigenous designed wallpapers.  

Private moments are also facilitated with clever design tactics without compromising on the workplace atmosphere.

Working with Shaw Contract on the project, Woods Bagot chose its Flat Weave Tile in Argan Earth as its core foundational product.

Part of the Community collection, the tile is inspired by weaving communities in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco and is paired across the workplace with Shaw Contract’s Dye Lab tile in Sandalwood, Fustic Wood and Iris, which mimics the colour shifts rendered in naturally dyed textiles, creating an elegant and unpredictable visual.

Combined, the flooring contributes to fostering a workplace interior where staff and clients feel intrinsically connected and comfortable.

The annual Shaw Contract Design Award program provides each winning firm with US$5000 (AUD $7,000) to be donated to a charitable organisation of its choice, adding to the AUD$260,000 the Shaw Contract Design Awards Program has already given to non-profit and charitable organisations around the world in its 15-year history.

Woods Bagot has selected meal provider Manna as its chosen charity. Manna provides hope and dignity to the hungry, the lonely, the disadvantaged and the underprivileged in Perth.

Photography: Dion Robeson.

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