A recently completed 7,500sqm commercial office in Barrack Place, Sydney, has received high praise from the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) for demonstrating “world leadership in sustainable design”.

151 Clarence Street, home to Arup’s new Sydney headquarters, lays claim to a 6 Star Green Star Interiors rating and was the first project in Australia to be awarded WELL Core and Shell Gold Precertification - a certification tool introduced by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) in 2016. 

Interior view of Arup HQ office meeting space

Designed by HASSELL with Arup as engineers, the new office is a champion of biophilic principles. Its spaces are filled with plants—893 to be exact—each chosen to create a healthy environment.

Also contributing to a high level of indoor air quality is a low noise, low energy underfloor displacement ventilation system designed by Arup. The system, which is not common to commercial projects, prevents the mixing of pollutants in the space. Air quality was also an important consideration to the furniture selection, with pieces that do not emit chemicals specifically chosen.

“The Arup fit-out scored highly across all sustainability categories, including management, indoor environment quality, energy, transport, water, land use and ecology, emissions and innovation, with a perfect score awarded in the materials category,” the GBCA says.

Interior view of Arup HQ meeting space

According to Arup, the project’s stellar sustainability credentials was made possible only by the close collaboration between the different stakeholders. The involvement of HASSELL and developers Investa in the early planning stages meant the team was able to shape the project together, and align the architecture strategy with engineering solutions. 

“We underwent an iterative strategy and design process with partner HASSELL, to create an office that can adapt to future industry changes,” Arup explains.  

“Employees were engaged in innovating and testing pilot spaces in our former office. The final design reflected insights into collaborative ways of working, health, productivity and digital connectivity.” 

The hero in the five-storey workspace is a striking, light-filled core. Here, a cast concrete floating staircase injects dynamism to the design, while affording wide-angle views of the office’s everyday operations. As HASSELL puts it: “this visual manifestation of Arup’s ingenuity and honesty adds…to the sense that things are always moving and changing”. 

Interior view of Arup HQ staircase
Bridges span the voids across two floors, keeping the company’s 800 employees flowing. 

Open exchange areas surround the central void, creating spaces where employees and clients can gather. Each of this space has a different focus, such as specialist experimentation labs and a workshop zone. 

These areas are complemented by “team neighbourhoods”, which include everything from adjustable desks to creative spaces, an external terrace and quiet areas.

Aerial view of Arup office HQ

Boasting 100 percent renewable power, Arup’s Sydney HQ scores highly on the sustainability scale, with high star NABERS ratings for energy and water expected for the project. However, it is its people-first approach that sets it apart, with the design thoughtfully connecting occupants and supporting their holistic wellbeing.

“Every consideration was made with our people and our clients in mind,” says Andrew Pettifer, Arup’s NSW region leader. “In a time where people can work from anywhere at any time, creating a place where people really want to be brings them together, supporting and maintaining our unique culture.” 

Photography by Earl Carter, courtesy of HASSELL.