It can often be difficult to find exactly what you’re looking for in a property. But search for a “high-end heritage warehouse with an urban flair and home-away-from-home atmosphere” and you’ll find it at the Domain Group’s workplace. Designed by Siren Design, it brings residential design elements into the workplace for a home away from home.
Home may be related to where one lives, but it’s increasingly used to describe the design of contemporary workplaces as they blur the lines of home and office. And no place does that seem more relevant than the new workplace for the Domain Group, a company that understands commercial and residential property. “We wanted to create a place where employees and clients feel at ease – just like home,” says Mia Feasey, CEO of Siren Design. “We achieved this by combining a variety of textures with a soft palette and residential-looking furniture.”
Domain Group’s workplace spreads across three open-plan floors of 100 Harris Street, a heritage-listed woolstore redeveloped by SJB and housing some of the country's high-performance workplaces: Domain, WeWork and the Enero Group. "The commercial market was a major driver of the design," says Adam Haddow, director of SJB.
"The project brief was to reimagine the building as an active and dynamic office space, delivering new vertical transportation and emergency egress and to incorporate an atrium, which would deliver light deep into the massive 4,500sqm footprint. [...] The dynamism of this visual vertical cannot be understated" – Adam Haddow, Director SJB.
Newly redeveloped and enjoying something of a face-lift, the building now has been revived to look forward to the next hundred years of use, providing the all-important flexibility of commercial space that continues to allow the hub of Pyrmont to thrive.
As such, the project arrives at a significant juncture in greater Sydney's social and architectural history. While Pyrmont was abuzz with activity in the 1800s – replete with sandstone quarries, shipbuilding, refineries, foundries and any number of industrial activities – by 1890, the construction of wool stores nods to Australia's growing pastoral and agricultural trade. As global trade penetrated further into the Asian subcontinent and underdeveloped regions of equatorial Africa, demand for Australian wool steadily declined throughout the early Twentieth Century. By the end of the 1970s, Pyrmont, thus, became a ghost town fallen to disrepair. In what is surely a vote of confidence for design's capacity to rejuvenate, the suburb has enjoyed a period of revival over the past decade to become, today, a new centre of commerce for tech companies, online businesses, start-ups, incubators, and creative studios of all disciplines.
Now joining this stellar lineup of companies in Pyrmont, Domain's new premises in 100 Harris Street is wholly designed around the cause to improve end-user experience. Siren Design's solution focuses on employees and clients through a balance of work and play spaces: open-plan desks, breakout areas and flexible training rooms, as well as a kitchen and communal dining space, games room, wellness centre, zen space and a café/bar area that opens to the aforementioned grand lobby atrium.
The original structure of the building – timber columns, truss ceiling and brick walls – has been exposed to reference the suburb's many lives, and is cheekily offset by polished concrete floor and modern inserts, such as black structural features and timber flooring. The trusses on the upper floor have been painted white for a fresh and lofty feel, while transoms on the lower floor evoke traditional studio lofts.
To create the feeling of home within this contemporary heritage environment, Siren referenced the details of residential design, including wallpaper, door panelling, timber mouldings and curtains. Breakout areas have been styled like living rooms with plush lounge seating, cushions, loose feature rugs and floor lamps, and clusters of pots plants and hanging pots also contribute to the warm and friendly home-like atmosphere.
To further blur the lines traditionally believed to separate residential design typologies from those of the commercial space, the team at Siren Design handpicked furniture elements that kept supreme utility in balance with a constant focus on end-user comfort. Specifying Boss Design's US collection in Domain's intimate reception areas, breakout zones and multi-purpose meeting spaces, is an inspired choice. Designed in-house by Lyndon Design in the UK but manufactured completely in Australia under licence by P4, US originally began life as a bespoke client order for a corporate site that required a single design to marry equally with expansive atriums, waiting rooms and collaboration areas. Characterised by a high-degree of adaptability, US now offers Domain's clients and staff alike the comfort and intimacy of our home environments hand-in-hand with purpose-driven design outcomes to facilitate a myriad of workplace tasks and agile behaviours on the spectrum of formal-to-informal engagement.
Available to be customised in a vast array of upholstered fabrics and leathers, US continues to prove a popular choice for specifiers precisely for this high degree of versatility that few products (let alone brands) can equal with such finesse. Whether in any of its three seat sizes (with or without backs), 45° and 90° seating options translate across the range's circular, strait and curved arrangements – a vital requirement in today's commercial spaces that continue to evolve alongside rapid changes to corporate structures, team environments and increasing consumer confidence in a hitherto volatile market.
“Domain invests in design because it understands its power: how it can motivate and inspire. It’s not just about what it looks like but how it makes you feel,” says Charles Ginty, Head of Real Estate & Workplace Services at Domain Group.