How Koskela helped design “Brisbane’s Top Workplace”

Working with the team at Hassell Studio, Koskela was proud to play a part in designing Suncorp’s new Brisbane-based HQ at Heritage Lanes, which was recently named Brisbane’s top workplace. The brief? An innovative, world-class workplace with people at the heart.

When it came time for Suncorp to build their Brisbane HQ at Heritage Lanes, there were a few key elements of the design brief. The new space had to put people first. It had to inspire and energise the Suncorp team. And it needed to incorporate Suncorp-developed technology, allowing hybrid work to flourish

That last point was particularly important. In the post-COVID world, large organisations like Suncorp need to cater to a wide variety of work styles to remain competitive and retain talent. The traditional 9–5 office simply doesn’t cut it anymore. 

“Working from home has proven to have many advantages, and like many organisations, we needed to carefully consider when, and in what capacity, our employees should return to the office,” says Suncorp EGM People & Culture Strategy Matt Leslie.

“We’ve always backed a flexible approach to work and encourage our employees to make use of both home and office workspaces. The question shouldn’t be which is better – it’s recognising we need to use both and embracing the advantages each provides.”

A smarter way to work

The wonderful team at Hassell handled the project design, specifying select Koskela pieces for the interior furnishings. 

In the end, Suncorp HQ was a collaborative process. Our choice of workplace furniture was inspired by Hassell’s architectural vision, but the building was also designed in a very utilitarian way: form definitely followed function, and our open-space pieces, like the Boab table, influenced the overall layout. 

“Organisations are giving more thought to how employees interact with a space,” says Koskela co-founder Sasha Titchkosky, “Not just where they work, but how they work. Is there space for collaboration, and can employees find quiet areas for deep productivity? This is the balance we tried to strike with Suncorp.”

Alice & Boab Tables

Alice & Boab Tables

Boab Table in Oyster Grey

Flexible office furniture

For this project, we supplied three key pieces: the Jacob sofa, the Alice Series circle table, and the Boab table. These would give Suncorp a huge level of flexibility, allowing for private work, stand-up WIPs, and open-plan collaboration – all at the same time.

It was also the first project where we rolled out removable covers for our Jacob sofa range, which is an important step on Koskela’s journey to circularityThese covers can be easily detached and dry-cleaned, or replaced after several years. This not only keeps our Jacob office sofas looking like new, but it meant Suncorp would eventually be able to refresh their workspace down the track, without unnecessary waste or expense. An important factor, considering sustainability was another major element of the brief. Additionally, when 2 of the sofas were accidentally damaged by tradesmen post installation, it was great to be able to send up replacement covers rather than having to bring the sofas all the way back for repair. Saving on time, money, and carbon emissions!

“Hassell designed an incredible space, full of spiral staircases, 4,000 plants and plenty of social space,” Sasha says. “Our job was to complement that design with furniture that encouraged different ways of working. Suncorp employees could hold small meetings in our Jacob high-back sofas, or they could throw on headphones and focus. 

“Everything was made to be modular, flexible and free-flowing. We never wanted Suncorp to say, ‘I wish we could do it this way.’ This was their space. And we wanted them to be in control.”

Brisbane’s top workplace

The response to the design at Suncorp HQ has been fantastic. Both from architects and industry commentators – which is always flattering – but more importantly from the people who actually work there. As with any project, that’s the real litmus test. 

“The design of Suncorp’s Brisbane headquarters is revolutionising the way we work,” says Colin Harris, Suncorp’s Executive General Manager of Real Estate, Procurement and Operations. “It’s creating the best possible environment for our teams to collaborate and work flexibly.”

Heritage Lanes was even named Brisbane’s top workplace by global workplace experience analysts, Leesman. A huge accomplishment! Heritage Lanes scored a total of 81.2 (out of a possible 100), which gave it the highest score of any eligible workplace in Brisbane. As such, Suncorp were able to secure the prestigious Leesman+ Certification, which is awarded only to those organisations who achieve an Independent LMI score of 70 or more.

The building also won the GHM Addison Award at the 2023 Australian Institute of Architects’ Queensland Chapter Awards. “This award acknowledges exceptional design, meticulous attention to detail and commitment to creating a space that enhances the employee experience and fosters a sense of organisational community,” said the AIA Awards jury. 

Ultimately, great office design isn’t about accolades (although the accolades are certainly nice). It’s about enhancing the work, and ultimately the lives, of ordinary people. Using office furniture and clever design to create a space that organisations can be proud of – and people love working in.