A relentless pursuit of technical excellence, a commitment to pushing boundaries and consistently challenging norms have been the driving forces in engineering firm Arup’s new office in Sydney, Australia.

In a long-standing collaboration between design and engineering, Hassell partnered with Arup to create a workplace where the exchange of knowledge and skills through learning and experimentation – central tenets of Arup’s work culture – are not only facilitated but lived by all.

International engineering firm Arup regularly pushes boundaries and challenges norms in constant pursuit of technical excellence. Those same driving forces define the company’s new Sydney workplace – a powerful collaboration between engineers and designers.

Arup involved Hassell early in the construction planning of the central city property at Barrack Place, where the firm was both the building engineer and the future tenant. This gave the team a prime opportunity to influence the building’s architecture and engineering to align with their vision for the office interior.

Hassell worked hand-in-hand with Arup through every step of the process to create spaces that stimulate and support the kind of learning and experimentation Arup thrives on – and put the company’s culture on show.

A place to interact without boundaries – and test and exchange ideas

Arup wanted to send a clear message to both employees and visitors that they are free to interact without boundaries. In response, the underlying approach was all about designing open and transparent spaces that amplify physical and visual connections.

At the heart of the workplace is a four-storey void connecting all five floors. Horizontal and vertical views across and between levels allow for wide-angle views of Arup’s everyday operations.

‘Exchange’ spaces throughout the offices are adjacent to the void, where they are most visible. Each has a different focus or activity – whether it’s a sound or light lab, a maker’s space, or a meeting or workshop zone. The common thread across all of them is the value of collaboration between Arup’s people, clients and partners.

Sustainable outcomes

From the acoustics to light and air quality, the clear views, yoga and meditation room, and ergonomic furniture, not to mention the best-in-class end-of-trip facilities, the attention to ‘wellness’ in this workplace is unique. Arup’s careful traffic and pedestrian modelling have even enabled cyclists to ride straight off the street and into the building.

The fitout achieved a 6 Star Green Star – Interiors v1.1 Design Review Certified rating and will achieve a 5 Star NABERS Energy and 4 Star NABERS Water rating. It will use 100% green power as part of Arup’s commitment to sustainability.

A potent mix of engineering and design

The staircase, connecting exchange areas vertically, is a design and engineering feat – a cast concrete structure floating between floors. This visual manifestation of Arup’s ingenuity and honesty adds to the overall energy of the workplace, and the sense that things are always moving and changing.

Bridges span the voids on two levels, linking work zones via collaboration spaces. These design moves – a play on Arup’s engineering origins and broad expertise – keep people flowing across the floor.

Overall, this Sydney workplace is a potent mix of technical engineering and creative design, and a benchmark for future Arup locations.

Project: Arup Workplace, Sydney
Design Studio: Hassell
Photo Credit: Earl Carter
Website: hassellstudio.com