A Whip-Smart Workplace – JCB Studio by Jackson Clements Burrows Architects

Words by Millie Thwaites
Photography by Shannon McGrath
Build by BD Projects
Fire Engineering by GinCat Fire Engineering
Mechanical Engineering by Griepink & Ward
Electrical and Fire Consulting by ADP Consulting
Joinery by Leeda Projects
Lighting by Light Project
Building Surveying by RBS

Jackson Clements Burrows Architects’s (JCB) new workplace sees the studio’s whip-smart design philosophies and wide-ranging expertise championed alongside the values and interests inherent to its team. Housed in a midcentury industrial warehouse in Richmond, in inner Melbourne, the project is grounded in sustainable design principles and an understanding of the benefits and outcomes of adaptive re-use.

The existing warehouse is integral to the design; it goes a long way in defining this project’s identity, and the maintenance of its original features represents JCB’s commitment to restoration and salvage. What’s more, despite its old bones, the building is fully electric and performs well as an environmentally conscious building. In addition to natural light and extensive cross-flow ventilation, with thanks to operable windows and large door openings, there’s a 60-kilowatt solar array, a dedicated electric car for the team and extensive bicycle storage with end-of-trip facilities.

There’s a rawness and elementality to the interiority, yet it’s beautifully detailed and visually refined.

There’s a rawness and elementality to the interiority, yet it’s beautifully detailed and visually refined. Beneath the white-painted original sawtooth roof – which provides the space with filtered southern light – full-height khaki curtains delineate spaces, while timber wall panelling exudes warmth. The colour orange (a nod to the practice’s history) is prevalent, and cork and steel bring intrigue to the materiality. Given the site may one day be re-developed, the design favours cost-effective materials and freestanding elements that can be easily repurposed. Notably, workstations and storage blocks have been custom de-signed as a set of interlocking units, meaning they can be reconfigured from parallel runs to clusters depending on the order of the day (or they can be flat packed and relocated entirely).

Taking cues from the building’s shell, the layout is relatively open and dynamic. The primary space is centrally located on a large, clear-span floor plate with meeting rooms, wet areas and pockets for socialising around the perimeter; a mezzanine floor ensures a diversity of space; and an outdoor terrace provides staff with welcomed access to fresh air and western light. There’s also a cafe on the ground floor, which neatly illustrates JCB’s affinity for creating meaningful social and cultural outcomes through the built form. Featuring a bright orange awning and bench seats spilling onto the pavement, it successfully activates the previously unused laneway. Landscaping, lighting and street art help to activate the other three elevations, reinvigorating the surrounding streetscape and improving pedestrian safety through both active and passive surveillance.

Bright and welcoming with built-in patina, JCB Studio has unencumbered appeal. The confident yet measured use of colour, thoughtful retention of existing character and clever approach to adaptive re-use all lead to a contemporary workspace that is both informed and surprising.