Birkenstock Australia’s New Headquarters / Melbourne Design Studio

  • Client Birkenstock,
  • size 5,381 sqft
  • Year 2013
  • Location Melbourne, Australia,
  • Industry Fashion / Beauty,
  • Melbourne Design Studio has created an excellent new office space in Melbourne, Australia for global footwear brand Birkenstock.

    Based on an initial feasibility study, Birkenstock Australia engaged us to design their new headquarters in a beautiful 2-storey heritage building in Clifton Hill. Asking for sustainable architecture that displays the companyʼs honest structure, the clients wanted to set new benchmarks for sustainable office environments and for the future of retail.

    A new central core within the retail space connects retail, wholesale, storage and online business. Staff amenities, for example, are half-up half-down between the levels, so that retail staff and wholesale staff get to ʻmeet in the middleʼ during their working day, avoiding potential development of different ʻcompany culturesʼ within the firm. By using the shopfront as a main entrance for all, everyone experiences the ʻfront of houseʼ, where the shoe meets the end customer. The new-built workshop out the back and the shopfront both play with handcrafted details on timber slatted screens, as a reference to the crafty workmanship that stands behind the Birkenstock brand.

    Based on international research we have specified selected plant species and made them an integral part of the design throughout the development : These plants work as ʻair purifiersʼ, cleansing the indoor air by removing unhealthy particles or low VOCs and improving indoor air quality.

    A great example for these is the design of the team clusters. Removing traditional blockout screens between desks to encourage project communication, each two desks share a slightly higher, double-sided, private locker unit with integrated planting. These ʻair-purifiersʼ allow privacy and interaction at the same time. There is also a reconfigured aeroplane trolley for each team member, holding their individual filing, stationary etc : When working at their desks, staff can dock on their individual trollies to the dedicated space at the planting/locker unit.

    The open plan offices encourage team work instead of hierarchical structures. The layout allows employees to move around and to work in different positions at different places in the room. There is a separate ʻquiet roomʼ that can be used for private meetings or if someone needs to retreat with their work for a few hours. The desks are laid out around a central ʻislandʼ. This area invites team members to congregate, for a team discussion or for a quick chat over a freshly-made coffee at the Barista end of the unit. This area can also be used as a high desk to encourage staff to work in different healthy positions rather than just having to sit at their desk all day. The re-configured aeroplane trolleys are docked in under the central unit when not in use, or can be taken with them when staff work from a different space, allowing true flexibility.

    Design: Melbourne Design Studio
    Photography: Peter Clarke Photography