Designed by multidisciplinary practice HASSELL in collaboration with Chris Connell Design, Kerry Phelan Design Office and Russell & George, the new workplace was part of a major cultural change program for Australia’s largest health insurer Medibank to live its purpose to the core and create better health outcomes for its members, employees and the community. That aspiration drove Medibank to create one of the healthiest workplaces in the world. One that goes beyond conventional Activity Based Working (ABW) to create Health Based Working (HBW) – an approach that places the mental and physical health of people at its heart.Medibank employees have complete freedom to personalize their workspace by selecting from more than 26 types of work settings, ranging from indoor quiet spaces and collaborative hubs to wifi-enabled balconies and places to stand and work. Circadian lighting in certain areas of the workspace mimics natural daylight patterns supporting people’s biorhythms. Employees who want a more vigorous workout during the day can also make use of a multipurpose sports court at ground level.
Adjacent to the sports court, an edible garden sits near a demonstration kitchen that Medibank uses to promote healthy eating to both staff, not-for-profit organisations and the wider community. The building itself has been described as being ‘hard-wired for health’. A ramp from the main entrance on Bourke Street spirals upwards from street level, allowing Medibank employees easy access to bike storage on their way in to work. This makes both a symbolic and practical commitment to encouraging employee health and well-being.
Both the building and the workplace incorporate an enormous number of plants. There are 2,300 inside the building and 520 in modular planter boxes on the façade, as well as two 25-metre high street-facing green walls. Within the workplace this helps relieve stress, improve internal air quality and transforms views from grey to green. With around 10 percent of the building’s exterior covered by native Australian plants, it’s a ‘living, breathing building’ that also provides a welcome relief within its heavily concreted urban surrounds. The creative collaboration of different design firms brought in a whole new dimension to this project and succeeded in creating layers of character and meaning to inspire people to connect in new ways with their workplace.
Location: medibank place, 720 bourke street melbourne, australia
Client: cbus property (developer) and medibank (anchor tenant)
Size: 47,750 sqm including 30,500 sqm of medibank workplace
Completion Date: 2014
Disciplines: interior design, architecture, landscape architecture, urban design
Collaborations: Chris Connell Design, Kerry Phelan Design Office, Russell & George
Photography: Earl Carter