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Thoroughly decentralised? Zero touch? Flexible social hub? Naturally ventilated? While we wait to see how the workplace at large resurrects from the ongoing shocks of COVID-19 (hopefully not littered with plastic screens), it is an opportune time to look back at some of the most oustanding examples of workplace design innovation from recent years – projects that have redefined the very meaning of how and where we work in the Indo-Pacific region.

The INDE.Awards 2020 special category Best of the Decade | The Work Space marks the start of a new decade – and the twentieth anniversary of Indesign Media Asia Pacific – by honouring a watershed moment in workspace design. The shortlist contains examples of the region’s finest workplaces of the last ten years, and represents the many types of workplaces that have emerged in response to shifts in technology, culture real estate forces and priorities – from urban campuses to meccas for ‘health-based working’ to intimate multi-functional community hubs. And let’s not forget co-working, of course.

PwC Melbourne Client Collaboration Floors, Futurespace

“Apart from all of them being of outstanding design quality and creativity, they are a manifestation of corporate culture and a desire to provide the most sustainable, flexible and motivating office work experience for staff as well as clients and visitors,” says Marc Von Briel, Managing Director of Wilkhahn Asia Pacific – category partner for Best of the Decade | The Work Space. “The fact that this is so deeply rooted and common to all the shortlisters, and to see that the same criteria were met by such different approaches, never ceases to amaze us at Wilkhahn.”

The PwC Client Collaboration Floors designed by Futurespace at Melbourne’s Riverside Quay, for example, was a significant moment in redefining the interaction between PwC’s clients and staff well beyond the confines of the boardroom. The project (which won an Honourable Mention in the INDE.Awards 2018) implemented aspects of ‘out of industry’ spaces (such as those in hospitality, retail, airline and education environments) to allow values to drive experience.

Medibank Place – Interior, Hassell with K.P.D.O., Chris Connell Design, and Russell & George Australia

A major cultural change embracing the mental and physical health and wellbeing of workers drove HASSELL (with K.P.D.O., Chris Connell Design and Russel & George) to create one of the healthiest workplaces in the world at Medibank Place – Interior in Melbourne. Workers’ individual needs are catered to with 26 types of work settings, circadian lighting, non-mechanical vertical circulation opportunities, sports facilities, and more.

And in Singapore, Hassell marked a coming of age for co-working with The Great Room at One George Street. The project established a new datum of maturity and sophistication for the sector, marking its growth into a critical component of corporate life – not just an experimental ground for start-ups and freelancers.

The Great Room at One George Street, Hassell

This INDE.Awards category presented a special alignment opportunity for partner Wilkhahn. “For over ten decades, the Wilkhahn brand has been one of the global thought leaders of the industry,” says Von Briel. “Wilkhahn embedded the principles of social entrepreneurship and sustainability in our own business values as early as the 1960s. ‘Wellbeing’, ‘collaboration’ and ‘identity’ are the three pillars on which we design our products – but equally, they are the principles that guide us in our relationships with the architecture and design community globally and in the Asia Pacific region.”

“With more than ten decades as a business, a bit more than two successful decades of manufacture in Australia, and just over one decade of extraordinary growth in export activity to over ten Asian markets, the reccurring word is ‘decades’,” says Von Briel. “The team at Wilkhahn felt it very appropriate to pay tribute to our specifying and designing partners over many decades, saying a big ‘thank you’ for the collaboration and in particular how much we enjoy being challenged by the ever-changing demands and environments our partners expose us to on a daily basis.”