Robert Bird Workplace
Fender Katsalidis was engaged by global engineering consultancy firm Robert Bird Group to design the workplace fitout at their new headquarters. With a long history of collaborating together, the client entrusted FK to deliver a design that showcases the DNA of the Robert Bird-engineered building and the company’s ethos of connection, collaboration and innovation.
The interior planning of Robert Bird’s new workplace focused on delivering an open and bright space that celebrates engineering, craftmanship and structure while also reflecting their Brisbane origins.
The office’s sunny and warm location inspired the restrained palette of warm textural finishes of soft colours and light timbers, referencing the natural landscape and lifestyle of South-East Queensland. Translucent fabric screens divide the spaces of the internal plan, creating visual transparency and cross-connection across the floor plate. Bold selections like waffled ceilings and terrazzo benchtops are complemented with blue hues, a subtle reference to Robert Bird’s branding. A careful approach to framing the exposed structural columns from the building’s diagrid highlights the engineering firm’s expertise.
The spatial planning delivers a mixture of collaborative spaces centrally placed within the floor plate, with personal work areas laid around the perimeter of the building, optimising access to daylight for occupants.
Togetherness, collaboration and visibility between disciplines were drivers of workspace zoning. Breakout and boardroom spaces were carefully designed for flexibility, catering to social activities of large and small capacities, encouraging staff to come together, learn and celebrate.
The robustness of the base build envelope is carefully balanced with the restrained material palette. Nuanced nods to native Australian landscape and first nations people are recognised through moments of pattern found in the carpets and artwork selections. Light oak timber finishes, steel and tonal uses of blues soften the exposed expression, delivering an inviting and relaxing interior.
The lobby area overlooks the various workspaces, inviting guests and team members into the inner workings of the RGB team. The attention to transparency and workplace arrangement promotes connection and togetherness between internal and external contacts.
Created post covid, the design approach focused on providing various modes of collaboration that supported virtual and interpersonal connectivity and presence by including various-sized meeting rooms, booths and zones delineated with screens.
Pushing the boundaries of the fabric of the building, the innovative adoption of structural diagrids tactfully frames spaces within the floorplate. As a result, the apertures and silhouettes the beams allow sunlight to diffuse throughout the space, fostering a welcoming and open workplace. Components typically concealed are respected and transformed into a design feature.
Responding to the client’s Australian roots, the design team focused on specifying furnishing items locally sourced and made in Australia. With sustainability and ethical trade practices deeply valued by the client, sourcing locally made furniture was imperative. The investment in quality items that can be reused in future office iterations was also considered during specifications. Boardroom tables were repurposed and refinished with wrapping film to extend their lifespan, exploring approaches to reusing recovered items.