From warehouse to modern open plan office with an in house cafe and landscaping, this Montague Road, West End building has undergone a dramatic transition.

Local architecture firm Harry Poulos Architects was chosen by Ostwald Bros to redesign their Brisbane office. Ostwald Bros is a resources and infrastructure services group, concerned mainly with the pragmatics of the mining industry. However, when it came to setting up their Brisbane office, they called in Harry Poulos to help create a collaborative and creative workspace. For the brief, Ostwald asked for an open-plan office, with something to make it unique from most workspaces. Harry Poulos Architects took on the design, project management and interior design to deliver the finish product within 12 months. Harry Poulos says that “creating a new home for Ostwald Bros within the raw warehouse environment, allowed us to create unique space solutions and through utilisation of alternative materials reflect the segments of their business.”

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The ‘something unique’ is brought with a consistent ‘wow’ factor that begins once visitors arrive at the point of entry. Users of the building are immediately greeted by an atrium space with sweeping views and glimpses beyond.

Starting with the empty shell of an old warehouse, Poulos and his team took full advantage of the high ceilings by adding a mezzanine level into the floor plan. Adding this level allowed the extra floor space that would house all of the Brisbane operations and office staff, without detracting from the almost monumental scale of the building. Original structural elements of the warehouse were left intact, along with the original raw brick walls. Conversely, glass panels were added throughout the fitout allowing light to travel deep into the interior, while giving a lightness to the otherwise industrial building.

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Throughout the space, there is a distinct rhythm introduced by the structure of the warehouse framework that injects a sense of contextuality and site significance. Throughout the design conceptualisation and development, the client was incredibly supportive of the new vision — a new way to not only accommodate staff but to increase staff satisfaction and excitement for their workplace. In allowing staff to take ownership and pride in their workplace, the space has transformed into a hub of activity.

An in-house café is a signature element of the design. Along with a breakout space, for encouraging informal conversations between colleagues, these social elements bring a sense of casual fun into the everyday of Ostwald Bros staff. This interior space acts as a catalyst for conversation, attracting staff and visitors alike.

Central to creating this atmosphere is the interior landscaping. By bringing plants and trees into the design, Poulos has successfully brought the outside in. Not only does this create a unique and relaxing atmosphere — the plants successfully improve the quality of the air. As renowned Australian scientist  Dr Margaret Burchett says, “To ensure sustainability of the urban environment, satisfying the ‘triple bottom line’ of environmental, social and economic considerations, it is expected that indoor plants will become standard technology — a vital building installation element, for improving indoor air quality.” In this case, the staff at Ostwald Bros can breathe easy!

The resulting design fuses raw and industrial elements of the original warehouse with sophisticated and modern elements, creating a unique and beautiful corporate environment. Standing proud on Montague Road, Ostwald Bros upholds a sense of place whereby the fusion of site contextuality and corporate identity come together to create a unique workplace.

Words by Alice Thompson | Images by Wade Roberts