Sustainably sourced decorative plywood from Big River Group was extensively used in the refurbishment of the Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO), helping create a healthy workplace for the employees.

An independent office of the Victorian Parliament, VAGO is responsible for providing audits to Parliament; the success of VAGO’s work relies on building trusting relationships between clients and government bodies. This needed to be reflected in the new office design.

Key objectives of the office refurbishment included creating a healthy workplace and improving collaboration between team members through clever design and carefully selected materials. Stepping away from the traditional workplace model, the refurbished VAGO workplace strikes the perfect balance between a corporate and synergistic environment.

Marcus Baumgart, Director of Baumgart Clark Architects, the firm responsible for the refurbishment, said that the goal was to reshape VAGO's office into a space that “avoids many of the standard tropes of contemporary office design”. The existing layout had senior executives segregated and located in private offices.

Following the redesign, all 200 VAGO employees are placed together in an open plan layout with a variety of workstations. The new layout includes glass-walled offices, booths and communal meeting areas, plus an open lounge, a reception area, and a large kitchen with views of the Parliament House on the upper floor. A staircase connects the two levels of the workplace, which Baumgart explained was integral to the design as it created a natural flow within the workplace.

Timber was a material of choice for the VAGO refurbishment for its proven qualities including its positive impact on individual stress levels, which can benefit relationships in the corporate space. The use of Big River Group’s Spotted Gum Armourpanel was vital to achieving a warm and welcoming interior.

According to Jim Bindon, Managing Director of Big River Group, the use of wood in indoor spaces can contribute to an improved emotional state and self-expression, reduce stress by lowering blood pressure, and enhance the air quality of the room.

The VAGO refurbishment utilised over 1000 square metres of Big River’s sustainably sourced ArmourFloor and Armourpanel decorative plywood for the floors, stairs, joinery and walls. The warm tones of the timber floors and panelling throughout the space were complemented by the use of muted greens, earthy browns and pops of red.

Big River’s Armourpanel is Australia’s strongest decorative plywood, designed, tested and approved to tolerate changes in ambient temperature, and resist shrinkage.