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Sydney Open to show off the newest office buildings, and some other classics

October 17, 2018

The exterior of Macquarie Group's new building in Sydney. Photo: Macquarie Group

If you’ve ever watched the cool and interesting corporates discharge from Sydney CBD’s office hubs at lunchtime and wondered the kind of scene they go back to after a bite and flat white, the annual Sydney Open is an excellent chance to stickybeak at contemporary workplaces that are worlds away from the vast open-plan or cellular walled-in office scenarios of old.

Among the 40 city buildings that will be opened for inspection during the 21st annual Sydney Open to take place on Sunday November 4, you’ll be afforded an insider’s view at especially how the offices of George and Pitt streets and that of the sparklingly new digs over at Baranagaroo have shaped up.

Three of the buildings at the southern end of Sydney’s flashest precinct are opening for the program for the first time.

From level 38 at 300 Barangaroo, where KPMG staffers toil away in one of the three “International” towers designed by London architects Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners to prow out into Darling Harbour, you’ll experience an almost drone-level view of Sydney to the distant horizons in a building that thermally responds to the external environment.

The interior of the Macquarie Group building. Photo: Supplied The interior of the Macquarie Group building has a 10-storey atrium. Photo: Macquarie Group

While in that buzzing neighbourhood of ongoing constructions that already styles itself a work/shop/play/stay and live precinct, you can then wander across to 100 Barangaroo – the tallest of the “sibling” towers – and check out how Hassell’s 2017 fit-out for global law firm Baker McKenzie, that occupies three interconnected levels, appears more like a five-star hotel than the club lounge and leather stereotype traditional to the legal profession.

A short walk away, the next stop could be the dramatically-engineered home of the Macquarie Group at 1 Shelley Street that Fitzpatrick + Partners designed in 2009 with the gridded exoskeleton that makes it a landmark. What you might not know is that it has a 10-storey atrium at its core.

KPMG's offices in Barangaroo. Photo: Supplied KPMG’s offices at Barangaroo. Photo: Paul Wright Photography

The nuevo office has a lot of attributes designed to make it mutable and able to evolve with future needs, to foster all manner of productive staff interactions, or, to provide private places where concentration can be applied.

So there are variously enclosed pod spaces, breakout spaces and play spaces common enough to make a corporate ping pong table unremarkable. There are kitchens providing more than a microwave and sink, and in-house cafes that mean staff no longer need to go down to the streets to eat.

In so many of the contemporary offices that will be shown off during the Open there is an air of homey domesticity that make them casual enough for sneakers and jeans.

In the Sydney studio of Grimshaw architects at 333 George Street, for example, there’s a terrific communal kitchen.

The PTW Architects' offices in the Aurora Building on Macquarie Street, Sydney. Photo: PTW Architects The PTW Architects’ offices in the Aurora Building on Macquarie Street, Sydney. Photo: PTW Architects

At 151 Clarence or Barrack Place, engineering firm Arup’s new Architectus-designed offices that were also fitted out by Hassell, and that are another new offering for the 2018 program, demonstrate the latest wellness expectation of workplace design. It has a yoga and meditation room.

Over on Phillip Street in the Aurora Place building designed by Renzo Piano in 2000, is one of the four architect studios that will be accessible on the day and that are invariably amongst the coolest of the contemporary workplaces to check out.

On level 11, 88 Phillip Street, is PTW Architects’ studio that was completed in 2017 and displays all the attributes essential to keeping the interesting other new proposition of the modern workspace – that of multi-generational workers comfortably sharing space.

The offices of law firm Baker Mackenzie at Barangaroo. Photo: Nicole England The offices of law firm Baker McKenzie at Barangaroo. Photo: Nicole England

PTW, one of Australia’s oldest architectural firms (established 1889), gave itself a full-menu makeover to include the following qualities and that make it sound so amendable it could be hard to leave at the end of a working day:

“…a forum for collaboration and contact… long communal table, a series of smaller tables with ottomans and a curved leather lounge…mobile workstations and height-adjustable desks, writable surfaces, pin-up walls and scalable work nooks with sliding glass walls…

Staged by Sydney Living Museums on the weekend of Nov 3-4, Sydney Open includes talks, tours, forums and access to some of the oldest and some of the most recent CBD buildings. A range of Open Passes, costing from $49 for full adult to $198 for a household membership bundle, plus more information can be gained at:

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