This project centralises staff from eight different RMIT locations into one tailored contemporary workplace.
To create it, ARM and Geyer fitted out 10,000m² over three floors of Melbourne’s existing QV building at 222 Lonsdale Street.
The project has relied hugely on its main stakeholders: future OurPlace staff.
Over four months, ARM and Geyer collected data all about the staff who will use the building and their work.
There were an amazing 1,600 touch points of consultation: that is, 1,600 interactions between stakeholders and the design team including survey responses and discussions at meetings and workshops.
We used these to create a workplace strategy to inform our designs.
In our envisioning workshops, we worked with RMIT staff to assess how well their old workplaces were set up to support their activities: what worked and what didn’t. This highlighted the difference between today’s workplace activities, technologies and culture and the ones those workplaces were originally designed for.
From there, we brainstormed what the staff would like to do differently in their new workplace, and how they would like it to feel.
This informed both our workplace design and interior design tasks.
We observed RMIT staff in their old workplaces. We collected data on the time individuals spent on all activities at and away from their workstations.
Major findings were things like:
From these findings, we made recommendations about the number of workstations needed, the sizes and types of collaboration spaces, and the ratios of formal to informal spaces of various sorts.
We also consulted with RMIT stakeholder groups responsible for accessibility, diversity and inclusion, designing beyond research, and technical considerations.
At 10,000 m², such a large workplace could feel like an endless desk farm. So OurPlace is divided into zones with various characters, names and stories. This also helps with wayfinding.
DESTINATIONS are centralised shared places for socialising, eating, learning and development, events, wellness initiatives or collaborations.
Staff kitchens and concierge/service desks are destinations too.
NEIGHBOURHOODS are where work happens: individual focused tasks, co-creating and collaborating, and meeting.
Workstations come in different design styles and environments to suit different people and tasks. So do neighbourhood meeting and collaboration spaces.
Indigenous Reconciliation (opportunities for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to build a shared future) was a key objective for this project and it is fundamental to our design work.
ARM and Geyer worked closely—and often—throughout the design process with Senior Boonwurrung Elder N’arweet Dr Carolyn Briggs AM and Professor Mark McMillan, RMIT Deputy Pro Vice-Chancellor Indigenous Education and Engagement.
The interior design is locally relevant, exploring the meaning of the site and of Place to the Boonwurrung people.
Materiality and colours reference the six Boonwurrung seasons. A bespoke wallpaper is being created by local Indigenous designers.
One of the Big Picture zones is called Ngargee: a gathering place. It welcomes people to the space and celebrate global indigeneity.
Ngargee is OurPlace’s most spectacular space. There’s a cosmos motif on the steps and floor because the night sky binds us all. The different sections of bespoke upholstery reflect different places and cultures. Some is dyed with ash from a Yorta Yorta smoking ceremony. There are tartans and Moroccan fabrics and Persian rugs. There is hand-dyed wool from the Dandenongs.
The project has created opportunities for RMIT students of multiple disciplines. It inspired seven projects for Work Integrated Learning (a cornerstone of RMIT education).
ARM worked on some of these projects with students of Master of Architecture, Bachelor of Interior Design, Diploma of Interior Design, and textiles and ceramics.
Ngargee has some textiles created by students.
There was also a student design competition, critiqued by ARM, for interior elements such as glazing graphics, upholstery and wallpaper.
OurPlace was completed in April 2020.