The recent refurbishment of the Sydney studio of leading architectural practice BVN was based on a future-focussed brief that celebrated design, diversity and innovation.

Going beyond the traditional definition of a refurbishment, BVN’s makeover represents a complete overhaul of the way it does business. The focus was more on what its future practice may look like, supporting new ways of working, addressing the need for agility, flexibility, collaboration and digital interaction, and keeping it human.

Staff workshops were conducted to understand the way people wanted to work, giving the entire team a direct stake in the design process. In discovering what they wanted, BVN made major changes to its traditional model of fixed workstations, storage and team desks arranged in clusters to create pathways for movement.

“The new design not only gave us additional space for our expanding team, it allowed for flexible work practices that reflects our vibrant culture,” BVN commented.

The refurbished office now allows teams (and individuals) to self-organise based on how they want to work. All the furniture is on wheels and teams can select from a kit of parts to tailor their space. Users can then unplug from one cluster, roll their desk across the studio and join a new team, all in a matter of minutes.

“The BVN studio is an incubator for innovation through continual research projects, data collection, and new ways of working,” BVN co-CEO Ninotschka Titchkosky said.

A platform for experimentation and learning was another outcome of the studio-wide workshops to increase exposure to new technologies, develop new skills and create spaces that encouraged sharing and collaboration.

The new studio is now equipped with a dedicated digital fabrication workshop area (accommodating 3D printers, a desktop 3D carving machine and physical model making space), a virtual reality space and video conferencing. To enable teams to rely on high-speed data, a system was invented where power and data are delivered across the floor plate via a retractable cable called a Data Boom, which is fixed to the ceiling soffit. This solution is the first of its kind and has a patent pending as a new ceiling system.

“The outcome is a dynamic floor plan in a continual state of change,” BVN comments.

The whole refurbishment involved retaining existing elements that worked well and removing parts that didn’t support how BVN wanted to work. Any new elements had to tie in with the existing materiality and provide a contemporary lift that contributed to a new energy within the space. The new materials, therefore, needed to be robust and fun.

Verde Scuro Terrazzo met the brief and was used on a large bar in the studio’s new forum space.

“The confident nature of the terrazzo and the versatility of how it can be applied allowed us to set the backdrop for a social heart that will contribute to many years of collaboration, creativity and enjoyment amongst our team and our clients,” Sally Campbell, senior practice director, BVN, commented.

BVN’s Sydney studio refurbishment was recognised with the Workplace Design Award at the 2019 Australian Interior Design Awards for its agile and future-focused design.

The jury commented: “...exhibits powerful thinking and offers a genuine attempt to remake the office environment to suit BVN Sydney Studio’s creative workflow… The designers had a clear strategy to understand how people work and while it would have been easy for them to take a straightforward workstation approach (which a lot of design and architecture firms do), they took a risk and chose not to.”

Photographer: Brett Boardman