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Custom made bricks transform 2 Southbank lobby into a place of the future

Custom made Albicocca Arazzo bricks, Southbank lobby

It’s a dynamic business and leisure environment that will stimulate inspiration and collaboration. Because 2 Southbank is less about moving people through a space, and more about inviting people to stay.

The recently refurbished lobby at 2 Southbank, owned by GPT, has transformed a late 90s building into a highly valuable 21st century asset. It meets the needs of a shifting workplace environment by providing a contemporary and energetic aesthetic with new spaces and models of operation.

BVN is the mastermind behind its innovative and well-considered design, and they’ve absolutely nailed it. From the moment you walk in, 2 Southbank feels welcoming, comfortable and non-precious, yet high quality, with an inclusive, communal spirit.

Its friendly character is a stark and welcome contrast to the usual sleek CBD lobby offerings, bringing much-needed authenticity. “Building a mixed use community that includes a diverse group of people, beyond the typical buttoned up corporate space user was a key aspiration,” Sally Campbell, Senior Practice Director, BVN, says.

Custom made Albicocca Arazzo bricks, Southbank lobby

BVN has created a place that the entire community can enter and use, blurring the boundaries between public and private, corporate and ‘black collar’ worker, retail, social and learning spaces. In essence, BVN’s design offers a flexible and wholistic workplace space appealing to a broad demographic. “The goal was to create an environment that appealed to all generations in the workforce, and one where a user in a T-shirt and jeans feels as comfortable as one in a suit,” Sally continues. It’s ingenious and completely refreshing.

Visitors and tenants are welcomed in to the lobby through six-metre high steel and glass pivot doors, which divide the space into three distinct zones, each with different character and function. The Street Café links Southbank Boulevard with the adjacent piazza, and contains a variety of booth options, two roaming concierges and a new interactive wayfinding. A Digital Collaborative Space, much like an informal business lounge for small or large business or social gatherings, includes an LED digital wall showcasing ever-changing artworks by emerging Melbourne artists – delivering fresh experiences every time you enter the lobby. Finally, an Events Lobby is available for tenants to book for meetings, functions and product launches.

In fact, 2 Southbank is much like a village town square, where people come in for business, but stay because they are well taken care of, and feel at home. “When you pass through these portals you’re immediately taken by the diversity: the art, the types of spaces and the mix of people who clearly feel right at home, and that’s exactly what we wanted to achieve,” Sally comments.

The material palette was critical to achieving the aesthetic BVN was seeking. There is a definite focus on comfort and quality over flash, high-design furnishings. Significant existing materials, like stone wall cladding, were retained and new materials added to complement them, transporting the lobby to the present day.

In particular, brick was a critical design element helping to reposition the public perception of the building. It not only visually connects the three defined lobby spaces, but also enhances the friendly character of the lobby furniture, providing authenticity though its texture, warmth and character.

Custom made Albicocca Arazzo bricks, Southbank lobby

Of course BVN searched hard for an actual brick, rather than a tile, to be true to the authenticity and quality of the space. This proved significantly difficult given they were working within the parameters of an existing commercial lobby (with an available thickness of 50mm after demolition of the existing flooring and substrate). However, a visit to Robertson’s Building Products solved that problem. Custom made Albicocca Arazzo bricks provided the perfect solution for the floors and bar returns. These bricks were 28-30mm thick, which allowed for a 20-22mm mortar bed, making it all possible.

“The warmth and tactile nature of the brick transforms the ground floor from what was previously a transactional space, with cold commercial finishes, to a people space, which feels welcoming and that people want to hang out in,” Sally remarks. “Everyone likes something different in the job, but personally, the brick floor is my favourite element in the project,“ Sally continues.

2 Southbank is, indeed, a place of the future. It’s an enticing communal space that perfectly aligns and supports tenants’ changing demands. And its non-precious design aesthetic has created a place that the entire community can feel comfortable accessing and using. BVN is to be congratulated for relaxing the traditional boundaries of a corporate CBD lobby, and delivering a design that encourages meaningful connections and interactions between a diverse range of people.

Architect and Interior Design: BVN

Product: Custom made Albicocca Arazzo bricks (500 x 42mm)

Project manager: Montlaur Project Services

Builder: Built

Photographer: Tom Ross



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