Boldly embracing a modern open-plan office and adopting activity-based working in a sleek new Melbourne address.

Around 550 Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) workers were brought together under one roof across three floors at 570 Bourke Street, over a year-long transition from various CBD locations that also marked a desired cultural change and opportunity for teams to work better together through proximity. The new supported open-plan office has been designed to offer a more welcoming environment to both clients and staff.

This was achieved by replacing the imposing walled offices and intimidating corridors with vibrant cafe-style spaces, collaborative work areas, quiet zones and meeting “cubbies” and booths. More formal meeting rooms were also an essential part of the design for when client confidentiality and privacy is required. Victoria Legal Aid hopes its new work environment will create a more social workplace culture.

“We wanted to give staff the flexibility to step away from their desks during sensitive calls, and opportunities to connect with colleagues with different skills who they may not see but could help them to better help our clients. It was also important to create an environment that is warm but professional for our staff working in the high pressure environment of the justice system every day.”

Bevan Warner
Managing Director, Victoria Legal Aid

To avoid any workplace culture shock with the shift to a new open way of working and to get the design right to meet all of VLA’s needs, a staff consultation process comprised of workshops and needs analysis interviews was undertaken before the design and build began.

The sunlit focal point of the office is a central 10-storey glass atrium with a stairway between floors. Health and well-being of staff was a prime consideration with the addition of standing desks and plenty of natural light filling the office and access to two roof decks.