An innovative adaptive re-use design, Woods Bagot has transformed the upper ground level of Paramount House into a tailored shared working environment, creating 22 handcrafted suites for creative and niche business activity. The design celebrates traditional joinery and artisan skills, while honouring the building’s heritage.
The 1940s heritage architecture set the geometry for the interiors. The building offered incredible ‘bones’ including three-metre high ceilings, windows that punctuate the entire sweep of the façade and an existing reception booth with original timber panelling intact.
The owners sought to create a workspace that simultaneously offered an inclusive yet exclusive community through the mix of communal and private working areas, while being luxurious, welcoming and service-oriented, offering a point of difference to other shared workspaces.
The design solution was intrinsically conscious of space and place, original concept, quality of delivery and user experience. Responding to the inherent challenges of the site – including an irregularly shaped and small-scale floorplate, heritage constraints and the client’s need to achieve a financially viable number of workspaces – resolving the size, position and composition of each suite was pertinent to the project’s success. A single concept plan set the functional brief, followed by a series of organic conversations between the designer and the maker.
Paramount had to be as financially viable as it was aesthetically unique. The client had clear metrics around return per square metre and, considering Australia’s highly competitive share office market, it was important that leasing rates were managed. These metrics defined the critical number of suites required which could only be achieved by significantly challenging the existing conventions of workspace proportions.
Currently, CBD offices in Sydney offer 10-12sqm/person at an average of 40% utilisation. In comparison, Paramount offers 3-4sqm/person at an average of 70% utilisation. The three-metre high vaulted ceilings allow for a feeling of space and openness while the parametrically modelled curved suites optimise the use of the floorplate. Integrated storage modules maximise operable space.
The building’s signature form is echoed in the softly-curved handmade timber office suites that wrap around the contour of the floorplate. A simple and elegant design solution, the curved timber suites are staged on an oblique plane that worked with the divide of each window, maximising sunlight and reflecting the form of the building. An axis of single pods was positioned through the middle of the space, creating a clear delineation of movement and allowing circulation in and around the modules. An intricate three-dimensional feature ceiling of timber and brass links the individual elements within the office, creating a compelling aspect both within and from the street.
Where many offices rely on open workstations, hot-desking or activity based working strategies to boost space utilisation, Paramount recognises that dedicated suites are desired for focused work and a sense of permanence. Without compromising functionality nor aesthetics, the design facilitates the next iteration of shared working.
This notion of privacy was integral to the overall design concept. Equally important was ensuring the space supported organic interactions between the resident businesses. The central kitchenette offers a social meeting point for the office community. Featuring a handcrafted brass bar, this area encourages interaction between tenants and supports a collegial atmosphere.
Original heritage elements are distinguished in a reinterpretation that acknowledges the building’s rich history, while introducing a new function to the space. Each suite features handcrafted joinery such as American Cherry desks, grid bookshelves, overhead shelves and cupboard storage within. Timber, brass, leather, marble and stone in a neutral palette achieve a cohesive narrative of warmth and discreet luxury which is in harmony with the building’s defining architecture and modernist ideals.
The project’s innovative use of space and form coupled with an impeccable level of personal service and business support takes it to the forefront of shared office design, producing a less transient, more stable and deeply authentic workplace grounded in human experience. The unique value proposition, collaborative design process and quality outcome has shifted the notion of what a shared working space is all about.
Paramount challenges the status quo for shared and co-working spaces. It elevates the sanctity of personal space, maximises the value of a small footprint and is exemplar of a new concept for a workplace of the future. Together these elements work to achieve a true sense of place and a cohesive working community that is bolstered by a 5-star concierge service and a highly engaging cultural program of events and activities.
Paramount by The Office Space represents an evolution in shared workplace design where an iconic building, leading architectural input, a custom fit-out, notable design furnishings and bespoke signature pieces amalgamate to create a notable working environment. Recognising and celebrating the original fabric of the building and its reinterpretation has offered a simultaneously functional and aesthetically attractive co-working experience. The project has created a new paradigm for how we work, who we work with, and the future of workspaces.
Boris and Naomi Tosic, The Officespace
Lighting - Light Practice
Furniture & Fixtures - Walter Knoll, Eames, Molteni&Co, E15, Bassam Fellows, Marc Newson for Noritake, Hermetica, Alma, DAAST, Morgan Shimeld
Woods Bagot is a People Architecture company that places human experience at the centre of the design process to deliver engaging, future-oriented projects that respond to the way people use space. A global design and consulting studio with a team of over 850 experts working across 17 studios in Australia, Asia, the Middle East, Europe and North America, the practice works collaboratively across time zones and borders, using the latest technology to share design intelligence and strengthen its knowledge base around the world.
People want spaces that are more tailored to how they live, shifting the focus of design to a more human-centred experience. Redefining the notion of a global community across both physical and digital channels, Woods Bagot relies on collaboration and collective intelligence to deliver design excellence. Putting People Architecture at the forefront of the design process, the practice is committed to investing in global communities and local culture.