Macquarie Bank / Clive Wilkinson Architects

© Shannon McGrath

Architects: Clive Wilkinson Architects
Location: Sydney,
Project Area: 330,000 sqf
Project Year: 2009
Photographs: Shannon McGrath

In 2006 we were selected to lead the design team, with Woods Bagot, as local excective architect, to implement a fit out for Macquarie that would complement their adoption of a new collaborative style: Activity-Based Working (ABW), a flexible work platform developed by Dutch consultant Veldhoen & Co. Our first idea was to open up and animate the ten-story atrium with 26 ‘meeting pods’, as a kind of celebration of collaboration, allowing clear lines of sight through the financial business.

section perspective

Numerous work zones surround the atrium, designed to house 100 employees each in adaptable neighborhoods. An arterial staircase links the zones forming a ‘Meeting Tree’, emblematic of the interconnectedness of Macquarie’s client relationships. The Main Street on Level 1 offers communal spaces that are highly conducive to corporate and philanthropic events and includes a café and dining areas. Within the office floors ‘Plazas’ were modeled after collaboration typologies—the Dining Room, Garden, Tree House, Playroom, and Coffee House, where cross-pollination among business groups is encouraged through spontaneous encounters.

© Shannon McGrath

One Shelley Street has been designed to the highest levels of green star or LEED efficiency, using revolutionary technologies like harbor water cooling, chilled beams and zone controlled lighting. Overall energy consumption has been reduced by 50%. The interior staircase, linking the various neighborhoods, has reduced the use of the elevators by 50%. There has been a 78% reduction in paper storage needs and a 53% reduction in printing paper. Mail is scanned and distributed electronically, decreasing the need for storage. Employees have lockers in which to store personal addenda, and are deterred from creating paper waste, there’s not a trash can in sight. The business benefit of ABW is the elimination of ‘churn’—the cost of moving groups and redefining spaces. Investing now meant savings in the future and Macquarie is providing an unmatched quality of life for its employees—benefiting clients, investors, shareholders and the environment.

© Shannon McGrath

By October 2009 nearly all of the 3,000 employees had moved into the new building. Although activity-based work environments are not yet the norm, the acceptance level among Macquarie employees has soared beyond initial anticipation. Nearly 55% change their workspaces each day, and 77% are in favor of the freedom to do so. There has been an abandonment of stale business practices that are traditionally incubators of complacency. One Shelley Street is positioned to be a trailblazer for the new global sustainable office building.

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* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "Macquarie Bank / Clive Wilkinson Architects" 02 Apr 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 25 May 2015. <>
  • (tfa)

    nice work! very interesting the blocks over atrium… the ambience of interior, the lights and everythings.
    But i think the textures are a little exaggerated sometimes.

    Good project! Congratulations!

  • Robin

    I like this. A lot. Good, drawings that convey a good design. I would like to work here (except that I wouldn’t want to be a banker).

  • PatrickLBC

    I agree, what an inspiring place to work! If I ever had to return to the 9-5 life, I’d like to work in an office like this.

  • bankers are wankers

    Bankers don’t deserve to work in buildings like this.

    They should work in underground bunkers without natural light and walls made of lava.

    Actually that sounds kinda cool too.

  • David Vega


  • Filip

    Cool idea sad that it’s totally copied from It university by Henning Larsen in Copenhagen

    • amr

      I too had seen this concept before but could not remember where.
      Thanks for the link Filip.
      Pity the ‘millionaire’s factory’ as Macquarie Bank was known could not use that money for an architect with an original idea.

      • Vinod

        Regardless of what the project “looks like”, from the article it is clear that the bank intended to commission a space that was high performing, not formally innovative.

        Criticism based on formal similarity reduces architecture to little more than a dog show.

  • ray

    old concept man….

    • Richie

      Just about every architectural concept is ‘old’, it’s how appropriate to the situation it is and how you implement it that counts.

  • larpey

    Great use of color. The actual finished product looks much better than the presentation. CWA needs better graphic production team.

  • Goldman Renders – Brian

    This design concepts look really interesting! nice job! The ambience and natural illumination is great.

  • kos

    IT univ. copenhagen unfortunately it’s the very same thing.

  • Sebastian

    Do you guys really think ordinary people ask the question,’is this place original?’ wherever they go?

    A desperation for originality produced almost a century of alienating garbage, from which we are just recovering. Current architecture is connecting with people again precisely because it is building on and extending a modern tradition, not gestating conceptual embryos. We need to move on.

    • bLogHouse

      well, modern ‘tradition’ is about and defined by gestating new concepts. Being ‘modern’ means being new and original – different from the ‘old’. Modernism and ‘change’ are intrinsically connected. Like it or not, striving for originality is inevitable, because all of us are brought up with the ideas of Modernism.

      • Michael

        I don’t agree.
        Modern with a small ‘m’ just means contemporary, it doesn’t mean ‘gestating new concepts’.
        Modern with a capital ‘m’ refers to a period which deliberately broke from tradition.
        Unless you were born a hundred years ago, none of us were ‘brought up with the ideas of Modernism’. We may have studied it, but few of us grew up with Modernism.

      • RK

        What is the obsession?

      • bLogHouse

        you might as well write your own dictionary, but here’s how far more reliable sources define ‘modern’ and ‘Modernism’

        of, pertaining to, or characteristic of contemporary styles of art, literature, music, etc., that reject traditionally accepted or sanctioned forms and emphasize individual experimentation and sensibility.”

        “Modernism describes an array of cultural movements rooted in the changes in Western society in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. The term covers a series of reforming movements in art, architecture, music, literature and the applied arts which emerged during this period. At its most basic level, Modernism could be described as the experimentation and fragmentation of the human experience, characterized by deviations from the norms of society. ”
        I used ‘Modernism’ in that basic meaning – as a way of thinking, as a value system, encompassing almost every aspect of the contemporary life.
        Unless you missed your school years, you should know about the different meanings of these terms and how they are used in the above context.

      • Michael

        I apologise.
        You are absolutely correct.
        Modern with a small ‘m’ can mean ‘gestating new concepts’.
        I was taught never to use ‘modern’ to signify breaking from tradition, but it appears it can be used in this way.
        Again, I apologise.

      • bLogHouse

        The value of publicly admitting your mistake surpasses greatly the expense of making it. Highest regards for this honorable gesture!

  • MM

    Ouch, that hurts.

  • P

    The problem of the copy it’s not the issue of the copy itself, as paradigm or as a philosophical thing, is that when the comparison comes up there´s always a better one, and in this case the Henning Larsen project in Copenhagen is way better than this one…!!!!

  • Michelle

    Lucky bankers..
    I wish more offices looked more like this… I wouldn’t mind waking up early :D

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  • yucki

    it is a great place for working. It encourages people to communicate with each other.

  • steven ominde

    i love the design am a student studying architecture,at the university of nairobi in kenya,i am really good at it.

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  • your mother

    rip off!

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  • c

    Architects are designing human beings’ behavior, helping people living a better life, more environmently friendly.