Future Proof

 23 Dec 2016

DLA Piper is one of the world’s most prominent law firms with an outpost in the heart of Brisbane city. Keeping an eye on the future and the continual evolution of law firm practices and the modern workspace, Woods Bagot has designed a workplace with a contemporary fit out that balances the firm’s current needs, with ones that will arise in the years to come. Taking on the mammoth job with confidence, creativity and never-flagging buoyancy, Woods Bagot has successfully delivered global law firm DLA Piper their new, stunning, re-imagined premises in Brisbane’s CBD.

When thinking about designing for such a radically changed and varied working environment, the drive for connection has never been greater.  Sally McNaughton, Workplace Leader (Interiors) for Woods Bagot, singles out “connection” and “community” as the future of workplace design solutions: “whether at a large scale, creating precincts and campuses, or whether it’s someone like DLA Piper who are taking on a floor (or a number of them), more and more often the thrust is figuring out how to create macro- and micro-communities within the workplace.”

Moving into the newly fitted-out ninth level of 480 Queen Street, right in the heart of Brisbane’s busy CBD, DLA Piper were able to consolidate all staff onto a single floor of over 2800 square-metres. With Woods Bagot overseeing the development of the interiors, the access to connection and community for the DLA Piper staff and clientele can be accommodated on one floor, evading the prehistoric system that segregates staff into activity-based workspaces separated by a warren of elevators, corridors and stairs. For Woods Bagot’s McNaughton breaking down a very large floor plate to create “humans scale environments” was central to rethinking the application of interior design for DLA Piper’s needs:

“[W]e did a lot of examination, considering the types of client spaces DLA Piper needed to allow them to connect with clients in different ways. For instance, there are some multi-use spaces in the base building, outdoor amphitheatre meeting spaces, a lot of retail spaces that can be used for informal meetings, and a very large, flexible meeting space”.

Observing how thrilling and productive DLA Piper’s new Brisbane location is for its personnel, it becomes clear that for both client and designer creating a more human-centred experience was important for unlocking the profound possibilities of space and long-term flexibility to cater to the reconfigurable and unforeseen needs of those fifty years ahead.

The wide incorporation of Zip HydroTap fixtures throughout the spaces for staff and clients is the perfect symbol of Woods Bagot’s design philosophy. Frequently working alongside Zip, McNaughton noticed early on in the reimagining of workplace design that collaborative areas, breakout zones and informal hubs “help to build connection and trust”.

The Zip range of products peppered throughout the open-plan office design is a great example of “communal locations and fixtures that [that] help to facilitate ease and quick use of zones where people can talk and connect”. Simplified, multi-purpose and streamlined, the Zip amenities carry a very human feel and function, performing in the space to assist openness and easy association in one instance, and promote private reflective moments in the next.

With this redevelopment as the latest face of DLA Piper – and its first open-floor site – it was important that strong sense of the local was preserved for this global law firm. Here and there, beautiful handcrafted elements stand out. “For these key pieces”, McNaughton continues, “we worked with a local artisan to make a handmade brass arbour creating the entry statement that clients walk through and under which links with the idea of Brisbane as a subtropical location”. The statement entryway acts as an orientation device that draws people into congregating from lift, lobby and reception.