Commonwealth Bank Headquarters Environmental Graphics and Wayfinding

Down to Business Down Under

Thanks to graphics by Frost Design, a Sydney bank headquarters communicates its "forward and flexible" mobile work model.

“Determined to be different” is the slogan of Australia’s Commonwealth Bank, and its campus-style headquarters in Sydney’s Darling Walk stands out for its innovative approach to the white-collar workplace. Offices for the bank’s 5,000-person staff are housed in a pair of eight-story “green” buildings designed to support shared work spaces rather than fixed desks for every employee.

Embracing a new approach called activity-based working, the bank provides flexible “home zones” where employees are assigned to work but have their pick of any desk in that area as needed. Staff are encouraged to use wireless laptops and phones to roam the campus and brainstorm with colleagues. The arrangement aims to support an additional 20% of the bank’s work force, since desks can be used by more than one employee, while allowing for future expansion and contraction of space as needed.

Given this ever-changing office setting, environmental graphics were critical to establishing a sense of direction and identity within the buildings. Frost responded by creating dynamic, sculptural designs for the entrance levels, playful graphics on the workplace floors, and subtle wayfinding integrated into the building fabric.

“Key designs are indicative of the bank’s forward movement and flexibility,” says Annabel Stevens, head of Frost’s environments group. The team extracted this theme into geometric, angular forms for the north building and more curvilinear forms for the south building.

Working with the interior design firms EGO Group and Davenport Campbell, Frost created signage and wayfinding for each “home zone” to identify the work areas for different teams or departments. Repeating geometric patterns were used to reinforce the concept of connectivity and provide visual consistency across the large, multi-level floor plans.

The bank’s commitment to sustainability is displayed in a large digital installation in the north lobby. The wall communicates the “vital signs” of the green building, which is designed to save 2,500 tons of carbon emissions per year and reduce main water consumption by 92%.

“The building is about changing habits and modifying behavior within the corporation,” says Stevens. “The wall is fundamentally an internal communication to staff to use the stairs more, print out emails less, and know that they are part of an organization that is actively doing something to decrease our impact on the environment.” 

--By Deborah K. Dietsch, eg magazine No. 01, 2012


Client:  Commonwealth Bank of Australia

Project Area:  55,000m2

Opened:  July 2011

Design:  Frost Design

Design Team:  Vince Frost (creative director); Anthony Donovan (design director); Annabel Stevens (design manager); Sarah Estens (lead designer); Joanna Mackenzie (wayfinding strategist); Natasha Bartoshefski, Charlie Bromley, Rose Gates, Bianca Chang, Adit Wardhana (designers)

Consultants:  FJMT (base building architects); E.G.O. Group, Davenport Campbell (interiors); Finemoves Media Production Co. (film footage); Bovis Lend Lease (construction); Innova-tech Consulting (integration technology design); TechMedia Digital Systems (digital content supply system)

Fabrication:  Wizardry

Photos:  Tyrone Branigan Productions



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