Red Rock HQ

By Rolf Ockert Design
commercial

156 Clarence St, Sydney

By: Rolf Ockert Design

Red Rock Sydney, Photograph by Sharrin Rees

How does the project respond to its context, contribute to the public domain for example street or neighbourhood?

The client company is a very successful IT organisation, priding itself on being different to its competitors.

The new office was to be on levels 2 and 3 of an old heritage listed warehouse in the centre of Sydney. Both levels were to be connected internally by new stairs to be cut into the heritage fabric. While housed in a building conceived over one hundred years ago, the resulting office had to be spright, functional and truly contemporary as well as supporting a modern workflow and working environment.

Within that strong white and wood heritage space with its bright insertions, a number of elements had been designed as particular highlights. The stair, with its bright yellow steel stringers and pronounced zig-zag timber tread line and its bright red carpet cover runs like a lightning bolt through the space, linking the two levels. Accompanying the stairs, a large 6x6m woven stainless steel mesh curtain emphasises the double height space while at the same time giving privacy to the work areas from the main circulation zone.

Several areas of indoor planting, most importantly a green wall right next to the entry, have been created to soften the hard surfaces and improve the indoor climate.

One part of the office is set aside for a relaxation area as well as enhancing communication between team members. There, comfortable lounge chairs and a library are provided as well as a billiard table.

What problems did you have to solve?

Apart from a few minor structural and mechanical issues the main effort revolved around the heritage aspect of the base building as well as the spatial adaptation of the two floors to suit modern office requirements.

The new office was to be on levels 2 and 3 of an old heritage listed warehouse in the centre of Sydney. Both levels were to be connected internally by new stairs to be cut into the heritage fabric. While this was not an easy idea to get past the heritage authorities who very much focussed on this proposal even though the impact of what we were planning to achieve was purely internal and not part of the public domain. We did in the end convince them that a modern stair will only enhance the heritage character of the building and that all modern elements were to be clearly legible as such while the existing fabric was to be treated highly respectfully. In the end we received planning approval without having to alter the original proposal significantly.

What was the contribution of others, including engineers, landscape architects, artists, builders and other specialists to the outcome?

The main credit here goes to the Builders, CJ Duncan, who faced the challenges of buillding within a heritage context as well as on two upper levels of an inner city site with bravado.

Key aspects were the logistics of running an efficient building site on a tight construction program on the upper levels of a site on a busy inner city street; the minimisation of disturbance of occupants on other floors; and the respectful approach to dealing with heritage fabric which required a lot of on-your-feet thinking.

How would you describe the value of design in relation to the cost of the project?

As a response to the brief requirement to be "funky", we developed a bright colour concept for all new elements, from the stairs to joinery, carpets, workstation dividers and meeting room finishes. This was to serve as a contrast to the white and wood heritage background as well as a way to distinguish various functional areas from each other. Red had a particular role in this colour scheme as the company is called "Red Rock Consulting" and red is its signature colour.

The requirement for the fitout to be startling and different was not purely a design based approach but originated from the client's desire to have the workspace represent the company's ideals and attitude.

What are some important sustainability aspects of the project?

Being an interior fitout the main focus in this project in terms of sustainability was on the optimisation of re-use of existing fabric and materials as well as the minimisation of energy intensive or polluting new works and materials.

The carpets, paints, boards etc were chosen for their good performance in terms of use of non-toxic materials and recyclability.

The sanitary fittings were selected as low-water use designs, lighting is generally with low-wattage LED with some energy efficient fluorescent lights.

What do you consider to be the benefits of the project for the client, users and the community?

The requirement for the fitout to be startling and different was not purely a design based approach but originated from the client's desire to have the workspace represent the company's ideals and attitude.

Other general comments

Several meeting rooms are designed as free standing glass pods, some curved, some square, with bright acoustic pinboard material and polychromatic carpet to set them apart from the other, circulation or workstation areas. These meeting rooms have their own ventilation system to ensure climatic comfort even during long meetings. Pyramid shaped acoustic foam panels have been installed to the ceiling to control the acoustics in the rooms.

The Boardroom is pronouncedly simple, thus distinguished from the more multi-hued working areas. A soft coral type carpet is matched with an aluminium aeroplane wing style table and light fitting and bright red chairs to embody the company's slogan of "having fun, seriously".

Another meeting room, on the upper level, has a big, continuous, curvy ribbon of joinery that meanders its way through the heritage room without touching it. This ribbon changes from forming a sheltering backdrop to a comfortable seating area to becoming a canopy to a screen surround to finally a table to seat six. This ribbon element is also red.