Over the past few years, employee health and well-being have become firmly established as leading design considerations for workspaces. Human-focused and biophilic elements, including access to sunlight as well as patterns and shapes that mimic those found in nature, are now a common sight in offices. Add to that a growing trend in Australia that sees EOT (end-of-trip) facilities — shared bathroom spaces that encourage and support employees who bike, walk or jog to work in the mornings and those who get physical on their lunch break — popping up in office buildings big and small.
Case in point: As part of a recent office-tower lobby and café redesign in Brisbane, Stephen Cameron, principal at local architecture firm Cameron & Co, reassigned a portion of the underground parking lot to a 700-square-metre employee-devoted functional area that adroitly blends the raw with the refined.
Upon entering — via either a dedicated street entrance or the car-park elevator lobby — those looking to freshen up are greeted by a lounge area clad in spotted gum (an Australian hardwood) and equipped with brass-lined shelving offering fresh towels. A living wall adds greenery and softens the transition into the low-ceilinged basement. Overhead beams and service pipes were left exposed to exaggerate its height and painted olive green to lend visual texture. As the existing concrete floor was too uneven to be workable, Cameron topped it with a self-levelling Ardex compound that closely matches the concrete in colour and texture.
The architect then introduced a number of durable yet beautiful materials throughout the purposefully high-traffic zone, which is divided into separate male and female shower and change rooms (each able to handle up to 13 people at a time), a universally accessible bathroom and a locker room.
Inax Ceravio G ceramic tiles (a series of flat linear ceramic tiles with varied profiles) cover walls, shower stalls and the vanity in the women’s bathroom; a durable laminate that mimics the lounge’s natural hardwood fronts the lockers and Corian’s terrazzo-look Everest surfacing makes up countertops and the bench seating in the locker room. Matte black fixtures, brass accents (including sconces by Melbourne’s Dowel Jones repurposed as unexpectedly elegant ceiling lights) and frosted-glass mirrors inject polish to the subterranean space.
“Combining rough and raw structural elements with exotic and refined details is a signature approach of ours,” says Cameron. “We love the brutal honesty of an exposed structure combined with the delicacy and beauty of highly crafted items.” Here, that trademark move has resulted in a linger-worthy destination that any employee would be happy to see each morning.
Cameron & Co expertly transforms a Brisbane office tower’s subterranean parking lot into a spiffy wellness zone to promote workday exercise.