Down to Business Down Under
Rio Tinto mines the power of collaboration in a new regional office in Brisbane.
Within a sleek high-rise in Brisbane, Rio Tinto operates its regional hub as an environment connected to the company’s diverse mining activities around the globe.
“This new office makes it easier to share information and ideas, and to attract new people to our business,” says Grant Thorne, Rio Tinto group executive for technology and innovation. Frost Design worked with the Australian interiors firm Geyer on the project to create environmental graphics for 21 floors of workspaces occupied by about 2,000 employees.
“Geyer developed a very well defined interior design by working with the client over a year,” says Annabel Stevens, head of Frost’s environments team. “Building from this design, we conducted workshops to define the journey through the spaces, what staff and visitors should experience, and the wayfinding and signage information required for the different spaces.”
To give employees a greater understanding of Rio Tinto’s core operations and encourage collaboration, Frost connected this regional center to the company’s far-flung sites across the world with place-making elements, graphics, and signage expressive of Rio Tinto’s mining culture.
An “earth to sky” theme represents Rio Tinto’s process of extracting aluminum, copper, diamonds, minerals, and iron ore from the ground before the raw materials emerge into daylight to be worked into sought-after commodities.
For an exhibit of some of the company’s retrieved minerals, Frost created display cases from Corten steel, raw steel, copper, and aluminum to represent the eventual transformation of the metals on view. “This design encapsulates the idea of refinement, from a base metal to a manufactured product,” says Stevens.
Similar mining references continue throughout the offices, from architectural elements to signage. A sculptural central staircase inspired by a mining auger rises through the 25,000-square-meter headquarters to encourage employee mobility and connections among departments and projects.
--By Deborah K. Dietsch, eg magazine No. 01, 2012
RIO TINTO BRISBANE REGIONAL CENTER
Client: Rio Tinto
Project Area: 29,000m2
Opened: September 2011
Design: Frost Design
Design Team: Vince Frost (creative director); Ray Parslow (design director); Annabel Stevens (design manager); Bianca Chang, Natasha Bartoshefski, Katie Bevin (designers)
Consultants: Geyer (interiors), Hassell (base building architects), Laing O’Rourke (construction)
Fabrication: A Sign Design
Photos: Christopher Frederick Jones