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Macquarie Building by Fitzpatrick + Partners in Sydney, Australia

Typology Case Study

In Sydney’s docklands, Macquarie Group’s HQ on Shelley Street is an eccentric looking building. It has an exoskeleton formed from a white steel lattice structural cage, which transfers the loads flexibly to the perimeter foundation, allowing an abundance of natural light to penetrate thebuilding, unencumbered by internal columns. Macquarie employed this light, open, connected structure to create an inspiring work environment, using the space to encourage collaboration, interaction and innovation.

Despite being a financial services workplace, the new environment was devoid of private offices, with everyone from top to bottom of the organisation adopting activity-based working. In a bid to dramatically increase flow of people throughout the building, and so serendipitous collaboration opportunities, a central staircase connects all floors. While many office structures still regard the lifts as the primary vertical circulation method, with staircases placed and designed only for ‘emergency exit’ capabilities, Macquarie felt this significantly restricted flow around the building. With the central staircase comes the idea of a ‘vertical community’, which enables office spaces to be planned vertically as well as horizontally, improving the sense of cohesion.


Section showing the deep substructure and transverse struts of the exoskeleton which results in largely column-free internal spaces

Four guiding principles were adopted: technology that followed people, a healthy building, slinky space and a ‘meeting tree’. The main atrium contains the meeting tree, with the staircase representing the trunk and the bridges and meeting pods which are cantilevered to jut out into the atrium representing the branches. As a public zone, this fosters both a sense of community and of being able to see Macquarie at work.

Themed piazzas throughout the building are spaces where anyone can work, and are inspired by domestic environments − so there is a library, aplayroom, garden and kitchen tables. These communal environments have a standard occupancy, but are able to increase or decrease thenumber of people in them while still keeping a buzz − allowing the building to be load balanced at any point.


Large open plan floor plates at Macquarie’s HQ are devoid of private offices

The working environment inside the building is primarily activity-based working, employees are completely mobile and occupy a variety of typesof workstation depending on the activity they are doing at the time. This is supported by a ‘follow me’ approach to technology − pervasive WiFi, telephony based on VoIP allowing calls to be directed wherever a person is sitting, and pull printing − the technology is linked to the person, not to the desk or the place.



Client: Macquarie Group
Design Architect: Clive Wilkinson Architects
Executive Architect: Woods Bagot
Completed: October 2009


Introductory Essay


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