1 Martin Place


Frost*Collective (Identity Design), Urbanite (Identity Design)

Practice Area


Project Vision

When a client’s design ethos in the workplace is about openness and connecting people, it’s an excellent start and one that this financial client was keen to replicate across its three Sydney sites. The Urbanite team’s strategic thinking directly supported these values and drove the wayfinding and placemaking outcome across this building’s seven floors.

This financial brand is held up in the industry as a forward-thinking organization actively prioritizing workplace design. Of their three major workspaces in Sydney’s CBD, two are award-winning architectural triumphs.

The third building at 1 Martin Place, is not as favorably positioned. At this site there are no harbor views, natural lighting is blocked by neighboring buildings and the historical significance is not as strong as the others. The client’s workplace design team, lead by Anthony Henry, saw the opportunity to make 1 Martin Place ‘the hidden gem’ that would become known as the office where their staff would want to be.

Embarking on the idea of the leading creative workspace, the project brief was about extending the creative potential of the signage and graphics to have a more prolific presence and contribution to activating the space beyond merely being a functional signage system. The client’s idea of being a leading creative workspace was central to the design’s intent. A distinct sense of place was necessary; being human and surprising was mandatory.

A significant part of the project at 1 Martin Place was the introduction of a staircase which became the hero of the project and its main point of connection. The “sofarina” colored staircase includes origami-like folded forms which are perforated to create the balustrade. While the floors were already accessible via lift, a staircase was consistent and in keeping with the client’s other two office buildings.

Urbanite’s role was to create an overlay of signage, graphics and placemaking pieces which could offer the space a visual continuity while physically binding the overall space together. Urbanite produced a range of signage, which amounted to approximately 100 signs across the seven floors. The core creative idea came from the hero of the space, the staircase. Urbanite looked at the beautiful and unique design and lifted elements from it to develop a signage and graphics scheme which could uniquely belong to this space by virtue of it identifying so strongly with it.

Urbanite’s signage and graphics concept were ‘folded forms’ directly referencing the folding forms of the staircase balustrade. They modeled some of the sign forms using folding pieces of paper to create the identity. This concept was translated across all signage touchpoints within the scheme including Level IDs to the stair which are over two meters tall, meeting room IDs applied to glass and a wayfinding level directory which is a ribbon-like form masked and sprayed onto the exposed concrete walls. Additionally, this language has been explored to create bold and playful toilet signs with large-scale graphics on the door and level direction signage as a folded ribbon-like graphic element.

For the collaborative spaces bound by the common theme of interaction, every floor had a different conceptual approach that was inspired by the different functions for these spaces. Identification and graphic treatments, as well as built forms, were designed to serve as placemaking features, punctuating the spaces in thought provoking, yet synergistic expressions.

Project Details
A simple folding gesture comes to life here beautifully and pulls together the whole scheme. I particularly enjoy the material treatment of the wall-mounted and hanging folded type, which looks effortless but required such attention to detail in the fabrication.
Juror 1
A unified and playful system. The folding forms are used in interesting and surprising moments—moving visitors through the space. The color pops and material choices are striking.
Juror 2
Design Team

Carlo Giannasca (head of strategy and creative direction), Ant Donovan (creative director), Sophia Noh (lead environmental design), Melanie Reid (senior design manager)

Design Firm

Frost*Collective (Identity Design), Urbanite (Identity Design)

Project Area

188,368 sq ft


Fitzpatrick and Partners Architects (architect), Macquarie Bank


Spike Design