WT Partnership Sydney Office

Design Feature
Type of Project
Landowner Strategy
New South Wales

In 2016, WT Partnership (WT) moved to a newly renovated office on 45 Clarence Street, Sydney. The project design brief outlined the vision for an office that 'looks nothing like an office'. The final development features a 5 Star Green Star Interiors fit-out of the new office space, which places strong emphasis on employee health and wellbeing. The new agile workplace encourages a connection to the natural environment, through people and place.

The non-office office

WT grew rapidly during 2013 - 2015, and wanted to dramatically change the culture with more emphasis and focus on people so set about a move to a different office space, uprooting from its North Sydney home of more than 50 years to the city. The move from North Sydney to CBD was also driven by WT’s new vision for growth, focusing on workplace culture and environment. Staff consultation was undertaken to identify their needs, interests and requirements, as well as enablers and barriers for them being healthy at work.  The WT Management group and design team used these findings, along with additional business requirements, as a matrix to scope a new tenancy. In addition to the established requirements of proximity to public transport and sustainability requirements of locating a five-star National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) Energy rated building, key preferences from the staff were:

  • Access to end of trip facilities
  • Activity Based Working (ABW) workspace
  • Sit to stand desks and standing meeting tables to reduce sitting time
  • A multi-functional breakout space with access to views and daylight
  • More meeting rooms, collaboration spaces, client presentation spaces, with IT/AV facilities
The new work style provides staff with opportunities to change working locations and increase incidental physical activity.

Following staff consultation, PDM International (now Cachet Group) were engaged in early 2015 to develop a detailed project plan, which included the office design. The design and fit-out of the new office space was recognised in the 2016 Masters Building Award category where the project won the Managing Contractors (MPA) award for the Interior Fit-out category between $1.5 million to $2 million.

The design draws upon the holistic environmental sustainability rating framework of Green Star Interiors and marries health and wellbeing strategies using the WELL Building Standard framework. The result is a fit-out designed with biophilic principles which meets the innate and psychological needs of humans to be around nature and life-like processes. This is achieved by including a generous proportion of indoor plants around the office, ivy planters on top of windows, recycled materials and reclaimed wood, the first installation of a moss wall in the southern hemisphere, natural timber workstations and a blue-stained timber floor in the breakout areas emulating the ocean. The new fit-out fosters project-based collaboration across a variety of work environments and features an undulating ribbon which crosses through the social heart of the floor, representing the organisations’ desire to encourage collaboration and create a positive workplace culture.

 Staff interaction and connection is encouraged through breakout and collaboration spaces.
Staff interaction and connection is encouraged through breakout and collaboration spaces.

To evaluate the effectiveness of the Project, WT worked with the University of Sydney in assessing employee comfort, health and productivity through enhanced Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) by measuring the key IEQ dimensions through the Building Occupants Survey System Australia (BOSSA).

The new office provides employees with a workspace where they can thrive professionally and personally.
The new office provides employees with a workspace where they can thrive professionally and personally.

The office fit-out outperforms the BOSSA benchmark in all categories. Additionally, WT’s overall performance, health and productivity was rated as 40% higher than the BOSSA benchmark and demonstrated a 70% improvement from 2015.

No project can achieve success overnight. It requires a vision, goals and objectives and numerous champions to drive and coordinate the project. The following lessons may be useful for companies considering an office relocation/new fit out:

  • Set targets around office design and outcomes
  • Undertake a needs analysis and consult with staff to understand the enablers/barriers of office design
  • Good design can cost less

Project team

  • WT Partnership, Owner and Sustainability and Wellbeing Consultant
  • Cachet Group (formerly PDM International), Interior Design and Management
  • MPA, Builder
  • Aston Consulting, Services

Project cost

$1.5 - $2 Million

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