The Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO), which is an independent agency of the State Government that provides audits to Parliament, has recently been refurbished by Baumgart Clark Architects to help create a healthy workplace and improve collaboration.
“The goal was to reshape VAGO's office into a space that avoids many of the standard tropes of contemporary office design,” says Baumgart Clark Architects director Marcus Baumgart.
The fit-out formerly had the senior executives segregated and located in private offices but now all 200 hundred VAGO employees are placed together in an open-plan layout. There are a variety of workstations, glass-walled offices, booths and communal meeting areas, as well as an open lounge, reception area and kitchen, which has views of Parliament House.
However, the heart of the refurbishment is the staircase connecting the two levels of the workplace.
"The staircase was integral to the design, connecting the two floors and creating a natural flow within the workplace,” says Marcus.
Every aspect of the fit-out, including the materials used, aim to create an office space that contributes to employee wellbeing.
According to Planet Ark in its Wood: Housing, health, humanity report, the use of timber in a work environment can have a positive impact on individual stress levels, benefiting relationships in the corporate space.
For this reason, timber was used for flooring and paneling throughout the space, with 1,000m2 of Big River Group’s sustainably sourced Spotted Gum ArmourFloor and Armourpanel used for the flooring, stairs, joinery and walls.
“When used in indoor spaces, wood can improve emotional state and self-expression, reduce stress by lowering blood pressure and better the air quality of the room,” says Big River Group managing director Jim Bindon.