In Melbourne’s Docklands one finds the Medibank headquarters, a new building completed in 2014 by Hassell, in collaboration with Chris Connell Design, FOD, Kerry Phelan Design Office and Russell & George.
Medibank is Australia’s biggest health insurance provider. As such, the intention was to make its headquarters a healthy workplace for its employees. In the words of the architects, “That aspiration drove Medibank to create one of the healthiest workplaces in the world. One that goes beyond conventional Activity Based Working (ABW) to create Health Based Working (HBW) – an approach that places the mental and physical health of people at its heart.”
In this sense, several different typologies of workspaces were introduced. Given the relative mobility that laptops and digital technologies provide, workers can now choose to work in up to 26 different spaces, ranging from indoor quiet spaces and collaborative hubs to wifi-enabled balconies and places to stand and work. Circadian lighting in certain areas of the workspace mimics natural daylight patterns supporting people’s biorhythms.
Outdoors one finds a multipurpose sports court, placed at ground level, for more intense physical activity. The building has been described as being Hardwired for Health. Numerous plants are found in both the inside and the outside of the building, as well as an edible garden that is placed near a demonstration kitchen, which Medibank uses to promote healthy eating practices.
The ground level of the precinct is intended to create a welcoming setting for the community and for public activity, holding cafés, an amphitheatre, shops and a public park.
The ultimate proof that the expectations for this building were met are given by the users themselves. On the architect’s website one can read: “Early signs show that the building is already delivering. Four months after moving in, 79% of employees reported they were working more collaboratively and 70% said they are healthier working at Medibank Place. What’s more, 66% of employees said they were more productive at Medibank Place and the call centre saw a 5% reduction in absenteeism.”
The Medibank building provides, in fact, a varied and healthy environment for its workers, while at the same time making them more happy and productive. The research undergone by Hassel is thus proven to be an intelligent one.
Daniel Anthony Fraga