Campus MLC

North Sydney, NSW

Completed 2002

Jury Comments
RAIA NSW Interior Architecture Award 

Campus MLC, North Sydney attempts to re-asses the notion of the work environment within a multi-storey building. The central idea appears to be to establish a sense of place by taking in and embracing qualities of the ‘home’ and ‘meeting place’.

The lift lobbies each have a theme, so that you are engaged as soon as you leave the lift. Ideas such as kitchens incorporated into meeting areas so that a breakfast meeting can be conducted over ‘bacon and eggs’ create a more ‘worker friendly’ environment. The idea appears to be that as people are spending longer hours in the workplace they can somehow be compensated for their lack of a home-life with a pseudo home-life within the office.

The central stair element that runs throughout the building has been treated as an opportunity to create linkages between each level. The idea of linkage is important here, as there has been a strong attempt to break down the estrangement between the levels of the usual office hierarchy.

It is refreshing to see the approach of a residentially trained architect within the reals of ‘corporate architecture’.

(2002) Architecture Bulletin August/September Awards Issue p. 33 

 

The Campus MLC project is twofold - the making of a new workplace, and the rejuvenation of a heritage listed building. MLC, now part of the National, required a new workplace as the final plank in a cultural change programme spanning ten years. The central design tenet was the engagement of the people of MLC in the process of design. In other words a design, and therefore a "place" led by human needs and a response to a culture, rather than a place as a response to a functional brief.

The 1957 Bates Smart McCutcheon designed building proved an ideal basis upon which to design a workplace based on principles of flexibility, egalitarianism, transparancy and engagement. Its open rectangular floor plan with attached core has proved that the simple concepts of modernist planning well executed are timeless.

The project involved the refurbishment of the building in two parts - maintenance of the facade by Bates Smart and a complete internal base building refurbishment undertaken by Bligh Voller Nield as an integrated fitout project. The obvious economies were delivered by integration, together with the enhancement of the base building condition by a sympathetic interior. The building has a two level entry plane - the major entry from Miller Street, with the secondary entry one level below at Denison Street.

Retail occupies these lower levels with carparking and service spaces. A childcare centre established in 1985 by Lend Lease (the former owner of MLC) is also located in the ground floor of the building. There are two open rectangular floor plates 18m wide, the west is 12 levels, the east 5 levels, with a core "attaching" the floors. As the west floors rise beyond the fifth level the diagram is essentially an open rectangle with a side core. This plan form has now, forty years after its design, become the norm for contemporary office building design.

Awards

2002 RAIA NSW Interior Architecture Award
2002 RAIA National Interior Architecture Award

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