The Amalgamated Administrative Appeals Tribunal is a new one-stop shop for the independent review of administrative decisions made by Australian Government ministers, departments and agencies.
Four departments have now been consolidated and relocated to 83 Clarence Street Sydney. The new offices were designed by IA Design (formerly IA Group) and constructed by BUILT and span 9,000m2 total floor area over nine floors, including three public floors of reception areas, amenities and hearing rooms.
CSM Senior Account Manager David Finlay chats to IA Design’s Senior Designer Tina Cerar about the design considerations for this project.
The AAT’s new offices consolidated several accommodations to one location. What design challenges were amplified by merging four departments together?
The four departments all had accommodation requirements consisting of both public spaces and working environments. While the working environments had a more consolidated brief, standardising offices, meeting and work areas agreed to by the nominated client committee, the public spaces had to accommodate a more varied client group. The design intent of the public spaces is to be approachable hence the use of organic fluid forms moving away from angular lines. A variety of seating arrangements have been designed, allowing the client to sit either alone or with whole family members. Consideration was given to corridor spaces leading to the hearing rooms, what could have been daunting long corridor spaces are broken up, now providing more intimate seating options. An insertion of a new stair also allowed the spaces to flow in a vertical manner adding to the new government wellness initiative of human body mobility.
Significant change management was required to minimise the risk of user concern. How were user requirements considered in the design development and final execution of this project?
Each of the tribunals had very different clientele, ranging from immigrants and refugees, disadvantaged Australians having social security payments reviewed, and government employees.
Significant review of the various types of hearing room was undertaken to ensure that not only standard criteria such as numbers of users, IT and security requirements were addressed, but that the rooms addressed the emotive characteristics of all the different users. To do this, a number of workshops between the tribunals were established to identify what were critical to the function of the departments, and what aspects of their different work were similar enough to be moulded to suit the proposed facilities.
In regards to the office areas, the changing nature of the department structure required that the office spaces be able to be moved as departments increased, decreased and merged, while still providing the requirements for private conversations that are required by many of the staff members.
Traditionally the staff in open plan areas had isolated themselves with L-shaped workstations and high screens. Opening up the space required adoption of linear stations and lower screens, and additional measures were put in place to allow staff to vary their spaces acoustically to suit their daily work.
Paper reduction was a consideration for this project. In terms of storage requirements, how did these factors affect the specification of storage?
While paper reduction was a consideration, it was agreed that this was a long term aspiration. The challenge was to consider and audit the storage types of the four different tribunals and agreeing to introduce a standard way of storage across all the tribunals. The specification of the storage was then simplified to meet their current and future needs which made it easier for the storage facilities to be managed both on a personal and departmental level.
A strong focus of the design was to specify Australian designed and made products in order to support and promote the industry. How did CSM s products align to your requirements for this project?
CSM ticked all the boxes of an Australian home grown business that had developed many Innovative storage solutions in direct response to the design industry and client demands. The local manufacturing capabilities of CSM was also a draw card as the project program was staged and challenging. The rolling storage requirements from the client was very specific and varied which CSM was able to help with, by conducting an audit and providing the correct storage solution.