JOURNAL/ Jan/Feb/2013


Clayton UTZ, Canberra
Bates Smart's Latest Project for Leading Law Firm

Legal Neighbourhood

With views stretching over Lake Burley Griffin to Parliament House it is not surprising that the Clayton Utz, Canberra team are making full use of their spectacular new breakout. It has fast become the social ‘hub’ and first choice for informal meetings. Long gone are the days when the ‘tea room’ was just that, today’s breakout spaces boast some of the prime office real estate.

This latest project for leading law firm Clayton Utz is located on the top floor of the new 6 Star Green Star Nishi Building in Canberra. Led by Simon Swaney the Bates Smart team have employed a blend of hospitality and workplace functionality to achieve efficient elegance which is well aligned with the Clayton Utz brand.

The integrated fitout has subtle design consistencies with the head office at 1 Bligh St, Sydney but it is the unique aspects of the base building architecture and the location that have strongly led the design. For instance, the reception backdrop references the woven materiality of the external facade of the building through a patchwork of lit cubes and the honest. robust use of materials. 

By rethinking the traditional legal office the team have created an exceptional workplace while minimising operational costs. Flexible features include a single accomodation standard to allow practice groups to reorganise without churn costs. Clients are also encouraged to make use of the new facilities.

Images by Richard Glover

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Landcom, Parramatta
Concepts of Mapping, Scale and Community

 “The Design Concept speaks about Landcom, their skills and what they do”

Simon Swaney

Director, Bates Smart

When we first met with Landcom we understood that their business is not just to subdivide land for sale but to create communities.

We created three concepts that were woven throughout the design that speak about Landcom, their skills and what they do.

Creating Communities

Our design principle mirrors their goals; creating community spaces for their staff and business associates that reflect their professionalism and focus.

Business Community

Landcom walk the fine of line of demonstrating value for public money whilst aligning themselves with large developers and their commercial business associates. This has been achieved by creating a highly professional workplace while referencing the history and context of Landcom through the use of contoured blackbutt strips providing a non literal link to the flora of NSW.

Staff Community

The design sends a clear message to the staff that they are of primary importance, with a large breakout area called “the terrace”. This breakout area varies in character providing some quiet, alternative work spaces, a “family” kitchen with a large communal tables, and a lounge area.

Mapping the Landscape

Stylised tracings of the New South Wales topography are etched into various key surfaces throughout the fitout, reminding visitors and staff of Landcom’s achievements and responsibilities.


Landcom’s work spans a wide range of scales - from the strategic planning of new communities to the selection of public artworks. This attention to detail at the macro and the micro scale is incorporated into the design of a series of screens and panelled walls used throughout the fitout. Each of these elements uses similar detailing with differing levels of density to achieve the level of openness or privacy suitable to each area. Whilst each of these elements will have a different appearance, they are all based on the same concept of mapping the landscape.

Images by Richard Glover

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Aesthetic Briefing
Rachael Mccarthy

Rachael McCarthy asks, "When is the right time to begin a discussion on aesthetics in the briefing process?"

The way a space looks and feels is an important and defining characteristic of any interior environment. It has the power to successfully communicate messages about brand and identity, to differentiate an organisation, institution or establishment from its competition and to evoke emotions that can resonate strongly and imprint an experience in one’s memory.

So how and when do we start the discussion on aesthetics to de-mystify this component of design?

We believe that aesthetics are best debated during the briefing phase, before the concept design is initiated. Our briefing and design teams combine forces to develop a unique diagnostic process called an Image Response Session. This takes the subjectivity out of motherhood statements (such as ‘timeless modern’) that are commonly used to capture aesthetic requirements and can result in confusion and frustration as the design develops.

Our process involves the client in a workshop style forum where a diverse range of images are viewed and debated, then each space type is mapped to show how the aesthetics are to be positioned in the future environment. This forum empowers clients to provide a tangible and shared understanding of the aesthetics to be developed during the design process.

Our clients are pleasantly surprised with the outcome and develop a sense of ownership of this often alienating aspect of the design process. It is the beginning of a discussion to be continued as the design evolves.

Rachael McCarthy is an Associate Director at Bates Smart. She is a senior interior designer with expertise in strategic workplace design and heads our Melbourne briefing team.

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Workplace [re]Evolution
Philip Vivian

Bates Smart Director Philip Vivian charts the various typologies of the workplace including the current type, then asks: "What's next?"

Read the article here (pdf)

View the chart here (pdf)

The Legal Workplace is Changing
Philip Vivian

In the last decade, Bates Smart has completed over 50,000sqm of legal workplace fitout, with another 16,000sqm under development. This experience gives us a strong position from which to comment on the changes we have seen and what we expect to see in the future.

Read the article here (pdf)


The Way we Work Today
Latest Project Images

“If there is a common theme today it is change!”

Brenton Smith

Associate Director

Associate Director Brenton Smith reports on a very busy year for workplace interiors.

"All of our clients come to us wanting to drive cultural change within their business."

This materialises in four main areas of the fitout:

The Breakout How to encourage collaboration through a social hub.
Work Settings How daily tasks are supported.
Reception How to communicate company and brand values.
Connectivity encouraging migration and forming communities.

View our gallery of images to see some common themes in the way we work today.

View gallery...

Hidden Technology in the Boardroom
Kellie Payne

“It's all about making the spaces work harder”

Kellie Payne

Associate Director

Kellie Payne discusses the 'disappearing' boardroom with Journalist Trevor Clarke from the Sydney Morning Herald.

Read the article here.

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