Westpac head office fit-out reflects modern banking and its riverside environment

The contemporary fit-out for Westpac’s new head office within Christchurch CBD’s buzzing The Terrace precinct takes its design cues from the mighty Avon River

The upper levels of the west facade of architecture, office, commercial building, facade, Westpac Building, Jasmax
The upper levels of the west facade of the new Westpac Building feature vertical blades, sculpted to connect with the fluidity of the River Avon.

The Terrace in Christchurch’s CBD combines excellent mixed-used urban design with an iconic location. A vibrant neighbourhood overlooking the mighty Avon, the mixed-use development comprises hospitality, retail and office space all intersected and activated by character laneways. The modern, new Westpac head office – on three levels of the five-storey Westpac Building – is a cornerstone component of this.

The Terrace was masterplanned by Jasmax and NH architects, from Melbourne. The Westpac Building was designed by Jasmax, who also undertook the Westpac head office fit-out.

Westpac New Zealand’s head of property services, Rachel Winder, says the Westpac Building, including the head office and ground-level branch, is a much anticipated homecoming for those who suddenly moved out after the earthquakes in 2011.

“Situated in what we feel is an ideal position – adjacent to and overlooking the river – the branch and office offers our staff and customers the best of a natural setting together with the business activity that surrounds The Terrace. It is very important to us to be an anchor in the CBD to support our communities and be part of the rebuild of Canterbury.”

And it’s not just the setting that Westpac is proud of. The Westpac Building stands extremely safe with rolling foundations and, in keeping with the company’s focus on people and sustainability, the building has attracted a 5 Star Green Star rating.

Given its amazing location and surrounding natural environment, it’s not surprising the Westpac fit-out provides a direct connection with nature, says Nick Moyes, principal architect on the project.

“From the west of the building, occupants can work amongst the treetops lining the banks of the Avon River. Other prominent views include the Bridge of Remembrance and Cashel Mall, as well as the buzzing laneways and piazza within The Terrace. Given this environment – where the CBD connects with the banks of the Avon – we looked to the site and its surrounds as a starting point for the interior look and feel for the Westpac fit-out.

“As the connecting element between the river and the city, the riverbank environment has many characteristics, textures, patterns and forms to draw on for inspiration,” says Moyes. “Plus, we see distinct correlations with the riverbank and the spaces needed for a modern, flexible way of working.

“Like a contemporary workplace, the riverbank is a place where people meet, socialise and collaborate and so it can be busy, lively, and colourful. However, it can also be where people retreat to reflect, think, dwell, read and focus – and so can be quiet, tranquil, reflective, fluid and calm as well.”

Westpac’s head office reception area in the new architecture, building, design, floor, flooring, furniture, interior design, lobby, office, reception area, Jasmax
Westpac’s head office reception area in the new Westpac Building beside the Avon River in Christchurch, makes the most of the views, while timber battening on the walls add a natural emphasis appropriate to the iconic riverbank setting.

The office space was designed to be seen as an extension and reflection of the riverbank, and it is from here that Jasmax looked for inspiration – from layouts to colourways and even material selections.

“Westpac placed importance on the connection to the river and being able to share the view with all occupants and visitors. In response, the west end of the floors were kept as open as possible to create a vibrant zone for meeting and collaboration,” says the architect.

The staff café and reception spaces on levels 3 and 4 are located near the central, social stair to encourage interaction between floors. Workspaces, collaborative spaces, a social zone and some quiet spaces are all set near the windows, views and natural light. Meeting rooms, utility spaces and the lift lobby are towards the core of the floorplates.

Overall, space planning favours multi-use, open-plan workspaces ideal for a flexible working environment.

In terms of the look of the spaces, several key aesthetic aspirations informed the design.

“The fluid nature of the Avon River is echoed in a generous use of undulating timber battens on wall surfaces. These warm, natural elements link, merge and connect spaces – enhancing the sense of movement and flexibility in the offices. In fact, there’s a liberal use of rich timber throughout.”

Colour plays an important, energising role in the office interiors. Multi-coloured pops of colour help define zones and add vibrancy; brightening, humanising and enhancing the spaces.

Again drawing on the riverbank setting, the fit-out also celebrates contrasting textures.

“Texture and materiality add depth and interest to the spaces and create visual drama with a playful contrast between light and dark, organic and structured, and natural and man-made,” says Moyes.

The Westpac head office in Christchurch has a architecture, furniture, interior design, office, Westpac Head Office, workplace, meeting rooms, Jasmax
The Westpac head office in Christchurch has a flexible workplace offering a wide variety of meeting, break-out and desking spaces, as well as semi-enclosed meeting rooms.

The head office fit-out employs understated signage and graphics, with a generous use of plants as screening elements – contributing to the natural feel and bringing the outside environment inside.

“Of course, sustainability is also very much the Westpac message and we are extremely proud of the 5 Star Green Star rating,” says Rachel Winder.

Green features include two artesian wells 50m deep to regulate heating and cooling, and solar cells on the roof to generate electricity for the building. Another element is the absence of light switches, which are replaced by movement sensors.

“Rubber flooring is made of recycled car tyres and the blade hand dryers in washrooms are powered by solar cells. All these factors either save power directly or are kind to the planet in other ways,” says Winder.

At ground level, Westpac’s iPad kiosks, and a 24/7 lobby with Smart ATMs and a cash exchange, appropriately reflect the modern, fast-changing world of banking and finance.

Credit list

Westpac New Zealand head office fit-out, the Westpac Building, The Terrace, Christchurch
Interior designer
Structural engineer
Quantity surveyor
Rider Levett Bucknall
Fire consultant
Operable walls
Dorma NZ supplied by Southern Divide
Assa Abloy, from Architectural Hardware
Design Industry Oxide Light, porcelain, by Jacobsen
Rubber and vinyl flooring
Regupol Everoll rubber and Tarkett vinyl, from Jacobsens
Wall finishes
Rockcote Multistop render by Resene; Bestwood solid timber wall battens in American white ash
Custom metal linear baffle ceiling – Sas International, from Potters; main ceiling tile – Armstrong Ultima
The Elevate, by Kada; the Navi, by Workscape
Reception furniture
Billiani from Union Workspaces, Askew waiting chair, Hippy stools, Grapevine Round table – all from Unison; George Nelson coffee table; Oslo Leaner
Kitchen equipment
Zenith Hydro taps; Fisher & Paykel CoolDrawer and fridges; Method bins; Starline dishwasher
Nick Moyes, Jasmax
Hawkins Construction South Island
Mechanical and electrical engineer, and project manager
Acoustic engineer
Acoustic Engineering Services
Partitioning systems
Tracklok by Potters Interior Systems
Westpac rise and fall screens
Retail Dimension
Luxaflex sunscreen and rollershade
Carpet:Interface Carpet Tiles in Retrofit range Relay Track, Human Nature range, Monochrome, from Inzide Commercial
Stone tile
First Rubbed Basalt tile, from Design Source
Acoustic panels
Resene, Dulux
Office chairs
Be Task chairs from Zenith
Additional furniture
Eames meeting tables, Billiani range of furniture, Herman Miller range,Segis chairs and stools, all from Unison Workspaces; Kada, various; Zenith, various

Story by: Charles Moxham

Photography by: Jason Mann

01 Jul, 2019

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