News and Events

New workplace design for Arup’s Sydney office

Stacey Ryan
24 March 2015

Arup’s Sydney Office has launched a pilot study designed to implement the firm’s new regional workplace strategy.

The project has seen the complete refurbishment of approximately a quarter of the existing 5,536m2 premises and acts as a pilot study ahead of a move to Investa’s new development at 151 Clarence Street in 2018.

The new office space is shaped by Arup’s values, promoting creativity and collaboration and the firm’s design-led approach to work. Close consultation has ensured staff’s motivations are at the heart of the project, while clients and collaborators are given the opportunity to experience that culture first hand.

The space represents a complete step change from Arup’s existing workplace. Divided between a studio workshop and a new activity based working (ABW) ‘neighbourhood’, the space fosters openness, and the literal creation and design of things.

Some might use a new workplace as a cultural change mechanism. For us, it highlighted the opportunity to create spaces that better reflect and enable characteristics that already differentiate us; innovation, creativity, and diversity. We want our office to encourage that; if we don’t fail in some way, we haven’t pushed the boundaries far enough. ”

Andrew Pettifer Andrew Pettifer Former Principal

Bare concrete floors, garage doors, and studios characterise the workshop. The spaces are fitted with a range of integrated technology – media wall, 3D printer and range of projection and presentation options – and multiple modular collaborative stations.

Staff are given freeform space; adaptable, writable, mouldable; with the expectation that if they come to an area that has no fixed form, encouraged to participate, they will share, design and cross-pollinate ideas between disciplines.

Arup’s research and learning group, Arup University, sit at the centre of the studio, symbolically and literally at the heart of the new approach.

A complete Activity Based Working fitout for the firm’s consulting group branches off the studio space, fostering the free interaction of staff from day to day. It is believed this is the first instance of ABW being adopted by a consulting engineering firm in Australia.

Our Consulting group is made up of a range of specialist functions. Working flexibly allows diverse teams to interact in a way that wasn’t possible before, increasing understanding of our skills, project work, and the opportunities that presents in how we service our clients. We are uncovering new ways of collaborating. ”

Marianne Foley Australasia Buildings Leader

The project will move beyond general workplace philosophy, utilising innovation from some of Arup’s specialist disciplines to monitor the change and better enhance health and productivity. Funded by Arup’s internal grant process ‘Arup Invest’, these initiatives hope to develop insights that can be incorporated into Arup offices and client projects worldwide.

Arup’s digital team are trialling Radio Frequency ID or RFID tags and bespoke Raspberry Pi nodes to track bay and workstation usage, and ambient and noise conditions across the length of the pilot. This will create a long term dataset which will help track the effectiveness of certain aspects of ABW. It will also provide real time feedback, displaying location of employees, bay occupancy and surrounding conditions.

Circadian rhythms and the effect of artificial light on the human body is an area of increased understanding in recent years. Arup lighting design experts are undertaking a trial lighting strategy within the space that complements the body’s diurnal cycle. By emulating natural daylight and colour temperatures, employee health, motivation and wellbeing can benefit.

The next 3 years will see an exciting process of experimentation analysis of staff experience to help deliver Arup’s ideal workplace.

Timelapse of the studio in action.