The city of Perth is associated with Australia’s resources and mining boom of the past decade and with the relaxed indoor-outdoor lifestyle of its inhabitants. Until recently, however, there was little evidence of that lifestyle in the Perth central business district.
Now, a new Western Australia headquarters designed by HASSELL and Fitzpatrick + Partners for one of the world’s most successful resources companies is responsible for bringing that famous lifestyle into the CBD.
Brookfield Place is a newly-opened development with a prestigious St George’s Terrace address. The centrepiece is a 45-storey tower that will serve as a home to 3,000 employees of BHP Billiton who were previously located across 24 different sites.
The tower is a substantial presence on the Perth skyline, symbolic of BHP Billiton’s key role in the WA and national economies, but it is only part of the story.
It sits behind a row of meticulously restored heritage buildings that had been boarded up for 25 years. Bars and restaurants have taken over the heritage buildings and a series of alfresco spaces behind them. Those spaces are linked to an architecturally designed public realm that leads to the office tower foyer and a high-quality food court.
The people of Perth have embraced Brookfield Place. Thousands of people now stream through the precinct each day to work in the tower and adjacent buildings, or to eat and drink at the restaurants, bars and food court. Pathways through the precinct link St Georges Terrace to the city bus station behind the office tower.
“Bringing life back into the city and activating the precinct from day to night was very important,” said Andrew Low, HASSELL project leader for Brookfield Place. “Brookfield saw that this development could do just that and we worked closely with them to realise this vision.”
Low went on to say having the chance to develop such a large region was a welcome challenge.
“As a designer, it is a great privilege to be able to shape an entire precinct,” he said. “Our client, Brookfield, could see the opportunity to make a real difference to the city. The quality of the design outcome matches the calibre of their brand, and as such they have renamed the development Brookfield Place.”
Inside the office tower, the architects designed 30 workplace levels and four “infrastructure zone” floors with meeting and training rooms for BHP Billiton.
Nearly all employees are within 10 metres of natural daylight and many are connected by internal stairs that link the working floors. The “top deck,” Level 45, is a communal floor open to all employees with a wide range of different spaces for individual work, casual meetings and video conferencing facilities.
“We set out to design a high performance, flexible environment that supports mobility, change, communication and knowledge sharing,” said Caroline Diesner, who led the HASSELL workplace team on the project. “It also had to be somewhere people enjoy working. BHP Billiton employees have responded very positively.”
Judging by the buzz around Brookfield Place, so have the people of Perth.