Clemenger BBDO

  • Type Commercial
  • Client Clemenger BBDO
  • Location Melbourne
  • Description A renovation of a “weird and wonderful” 1980s office
  • Construction 2013
  • Photography Trevor Mein
  • Design Allan Powell Pty Ltd
  • Architect Allan Powell & Ed Glenn

Architecture firm Powell and Glenn’s refit of Clemenger BBDO’s office, the Melbourne arm of the international creative agency, brings a pitch perfect integration of stillness and energy to the space.

Through the workings of the reconfigured space itself, light, dynamism and fluidity enrich and charge the work environment. It is, in a sense, the people, their activities, movement and studied repose that the design mobilises to central effect.

The space is reconceptualised as a series of encampments or zones that accommodate the various strategic divisions within the company – from “the suits” to “the planners” to “the creatives.” These zones are hotbeds of energy but also of quiet contemplation, as sliding walls and dedicated spaces of refuge within each allow the space to transform as required.

A signature aspect of the design is the lighting work of Stephen Hennessy, whose diverse installations are beautiful notations throughout the space.

A previously unloved and scrappy rooftop, accessed from the bottom of the void, is transformed into a multipurpose outdoor playspace, complete with basketball court and mini soccer field, as well as a large terraced area that becomes a rooftop cinema for staff on warm summer nights. A cottage garden grows in one corner of the rooftop, servicing the in-house kitchen with its fresh produce. Crowned with moon installations by Hennessy, the external pavilion affords staff the psychology of an off-site retreat. 

The star of this external space, however, is what architect Ed Glenn refers to as the “creative pavilion” – essentially, an additional venue within the complex, purpose built to afford the psychology of off-site retreat.

Such interplays of openness and seclusion, the implicit and the explicit, the still and the mobile, are at the heart of this successful project – at once an enabler and a supporter of the creative engine that is this workplace. For McGrath, this “transformational architecture” has achieved its goal: to understand and to communicate spatially “how we work en-masse and how each individual has a place.”

Text extracts from: ‘Transformational architecture’: Clemenger BBDO Melbourne, By Emily Potter, Architecture AU