About the project
ClarkeHopkinsClarke’s anchor tenancy at Melbourne Connect, a Melbourne University-led innovation precinct featuring world-class ESD, exemplifies changing work, practice values, and decades of community-building expertise. The design has recently been shortlisted for the 2022 Australian Interior Design Awards – Workplace Design.
The new studio needed to reunite an interdisciplinary team of 180 spanning 9 sectors, all with diverse projects and working styles, which had outgrown its Collingwood studio and adjacent office. The project brief was to create a collaborative environment that embodies practice values, showcases design expertise to clients, reflects changing work patterns amplified by the pandemic, and meets stringent environmental requirements associated with world-leading ESD.
The 1849-square-metre fit-out retains central lift and stairwell cores and introduces a public-facing ‘town square’ reception to the south and internal ‘town hall’ kitchenette to the north. They’re linked by streetscapes of flexible spaces for collaboration and focused work. A neutral palette of high-ESD materials complements the base build, accented with warm timbers and terracotta tones.
At the floorplate edge, an expansive, versatile kitchen is the social heart of the design. Like sector workspaces linked by 5 collaborative zones, it shares energising light and stunning city views with everyone. Spatial planning exemplifies ClarkeHopkinsClarke’s award-winning urban design methodology and practice values: Listen First, Stay Curious, Create Together and Make it Matter. The ‘town square’ reception zone invites clients into collaborative creative processes via 8 diverse, mainly transparent front-of-house spaces for meetings, focused work, boardroom discussions, workshops, exhibitions, Zoom and VR. The kitchen’s communal tables, booths and breakouts connect people for socialising, presentations, dining, events and table tennis tournaments (a beloved tradition).
A neutral palette of exemplar ESD materials compliment the base build. Custom accents by regular collaborator include Jonik’s black powder-coated shelving (whose integrated planters echo the Collingwood studio’s lush internal courtyard and garden), and pendant lighting by a co-founder’s son, porcelain artist Colin Hopkins, suggesting hand-rolled drawings.
A world-class innovation precinct required a future-focussed fitout designed for continual improvement. Melbourne Connect’s Property Council A-Grade building is 6-star Green Star rated, 4.5-star NABERS water rated and 5-star NABERS energy rated. This required designers to meet stringent compliance targets for studio design, materials, fittings and operations.
ClarkeHopkinsClarke’s designers drew on experience achieving Climate Active, carbon neutral and BCorp certification and delivering high-ESD client projects. They rigorously researched exemplar suppliers and innovative materials, which include Interface carbon neutral carpets, Paperock composite benchtops and splashbacks made from paper, and laminate panelling from closed loop manufacturing specialists Polytec