Designed by COX Architecture to focus on amplifying the workspace’s relationship with the outdoors, Melbourne Square developer OSK Property has unveiled plans for a 38,000 square metre 29-level office in Southbank that the architects say incorporates many of the key features that tenants will be prioritising in the post COVID-19 era.

Located within the Melbourne Square precinct, the design by COX Architecture allows open floorplates of up to 1,870sqm enabled by an innovative and practical side-core design.

Interconnecting stairs and atriums create a sense of community and foster workplace health, while adaptable layouts enabled by largely column-free floorplates aim to provide future proofing and flexibility and enable co-working.

COX Architecture director Paul Curry says its design principles were representative of how offices would likely change in the post COVID-19 era.

“COVID-19 has accelerated workplace trends towards remote working and it has raised the question as to what the office of the future will look like. Long-term outcomes will likely lead to a greater need from workers to enjoy fresh air and light, with access to open space and a connection back to nature.”

“Layouts will be more flexible than ever and common areas and spaces more humanising in their materials and textures. Buildings will need to offer more than just a place to work – people will work to make a life, not just a living,” he says.

He says the north-facing orientation and design that maximises its relationship to Melbourne Square’s one acre park would set it apart, in addition to a number of external terraces that link workspaces directly to the outdoors.

The office is planned to feature gym and yoga studios, a plant filled multi-level atrium and a park programmable by a future Garden Events Committee.

It is further targeting one of the highest wellness ratings – the coveted and tough-to-achieve International Well Building Institute’s WELL Gold standard – a feature experts say will be essential post COVID-19 and in light of our most recent bushfire season.

“Health and wellbeing has never been more important and people are making the link between buildings and how they impact our health,” says WELL consultant Sophie Hutchinson, ADP Consulting’s director of sustainability.

“To have a high performing barrier between you and the outside world is becoming immensely important – just look at the demand for face masks during the fires and now to protect against COVID-19. WELL buildings can be a first line of defence to protect our health – they filter the air before you enter the building, provide optimum levels of ventilation and natural light and deliver clean air flow so that particles aren’t gathering on our lungs.”

“Modern workplaces are demanding these wellbeing advances as they not only reduce sick days but also increase productivity and retention,” says Hutchinson.

Image: Supplied