Text description provided by the architects. Built in 1916, the strong architectural language of the Commonwealth Bank's iconic ‘money box’ building provided a strong foundation that inspired the design for Challenger’s new workplace. Creating 9,000 sqm of workspace across four levels, the design by Woods Bagot was focused on bringing people together. Strategic in both concept and design, the design fosters alignment to grow the capability of the organization in line with business objectives. Looking back in order to create a forward-thinking workplace, work floors comprise individual and project based work stations, semi-open meeting pods and small, bookable private meeting rooms.
Woods Bagot Workplace Interiors Sector Leader in Sydney, Todd Hammond said the design created a workplace with longevity that leveraged the heritage character of the building while paying homage to the future, as well as Challenger’s youth and innovation.
“Fitting-out a heritage building means you approach the design differently. While we placed functionality at the core of the concept, the existing heritage void set a pivotal starting point from which to centre the heart of the project.”
Shared by multiple tenancies, the void is complemented by a glazed feature stair that contributes to the distinctive aesthetic of the space. The stair acts to connect all four Challenger floors, providing both physical and visual linkages across the business. Comprising steel construction with Australian Blackbutt timber cladding, the stair sits adjacent to the void, with glazed balustrades enabling a highly transparent feature that references the organisation’s objectives.
“Fortunately, working with an agile client like Challenger, the cultural value of inserting the stair into the floor plate was already understood. We worked to increase the void on the Challenger floors so the stair wouldn’t disrupt the heritage footprint,” added Todd.
“Separated from the existing heritage void, a four-storey timber box provides a frame for the stair to sit within, simultaneously elevating the feature to become a key statement of organizational integration, connectivity and wellness.”
The look and feel of the interiors embodies both the heritage architecture and the modern reuse of the building. Carefully considering client and employee experience, the language of the details are refined while maintaining a warm ambiance to create a welcoming reception to greet both staff and visitors.
Upon entry, clients and visitors are introduced to the space via the custom concierge desk at reception featuring seamless technological integration. Situated on Level 2, reception blurs into a town hall-style breakout zone for internal forums, social gatherings and presentations. Positioned adjacent to the café, commercial-grade kitchen and living green wall, the town hall area has provided a dynamic zone that functions at the heart of information exchange.
Throughout the fit-out, the finishes scheme develops the heritage-inspired palette using natural stones and textured glazing. Ceramic wall and floor tiles alongside bronze trim and fluted glass bricks reference the past, while contemporary furniture enables modern functionality, detailed considerately with the heritage overlay.
The repetitive and articulated nature of the space connects back to the heritage features of the building. The decorative timber beams and ceiling panels replicate the pattern of the heritage glazing, while maintaining a modern feel. The geometric motif in the ceiling in reception is inspired by the original stained glass windows of the heritage windows. Client-facing heritage meeting rooms are also situated on Level 2, finished with Harbour Bridge steel paint framing in a nod to the heritage aesthetic and the Sydney context too.
Considering workplace efficiency and employee wellbeing, Challenger’s new workplace delicately balances collaboration and the requirement for privacy, facilitating a productive environment that builds engagement, and enables connectivity within the Challenger community.