The Australian firm turned to wood finishes to create Box Office, which brings natural elements inside for a cozier work environment.
At NeoCon this year, such brands as Coalesse, Herman Miller and Teknion launched desks, seating and storage units in nude wood, tipping the balance toward a more residential aesthetic. And the trend has begun to travel around the globe.
In Melbourne, Cox Architecture, one of Australia’s largest international firms, chose wood as the main material for its new 1,000-square-metre headquarters. Blackbutt eucalyptus and Douglas fir cover the walls, floors and staircases, and in the communal kitchen an expansive countertop was fashioned out of planks left over from the construction.
Patrick Ness, design director of the Melbourne office, says that the elementary material “allowed us to craft spaces that are better suited to creative design thinking.” A staff of 80 now circulates through the open areas, with a bank of glassed-in rooms reserved for private meetings. While wood may not absorb sound as well as carpet tiles, it creates what Ness calls a “live space,” where the ambient noise of people working adds to the energy. Wood’s natural look also lends warmth, especially in environments dominated by rows of monitors, and it makes effective privacy screens. Ness believes that’s why it has started to turn up in design schemes more often.
Completed this year, Box Office has already received a nod from the World Architecture Festival, which shortlisted the project for an award. One striking feature is in the main atrium, which links two floors via an oversized staircase that doubles as a multi-stepped box theatre. It’s large enough to provide seating for the entire team, to act as a meet-up point, or to be used as a workshop space when clients visit. Ness refers to it as the town square. “Every aspect of the space has been considered in terms of how we use it to create and collaborate,” he says.