Hassell breaks down mental and physical barriers at Medibank's Melbourne headquarters

MELBOURNE – Green, healthy living is most definitely the new black. While wellness bloggers rise to ‘social stardom’ via their aspirational Instagram feeds and healthy-lifestyle blogs, corporate organizations that trade on health management are undergoing a structural and behavioural renaissance that is seeing them actively embrace the teachings of online gurus promoting salubrity.

Medibank’s new headquarters in Melbourne has emerged as a pioneer of this ‘corporate awakening’. Set within the Docklands – a precinct that is home to the utopian workplaces of Australia’s big banks – the main office of the country’s largest health insurer reflects the organization’s wholesome lifestyle values.

Architecture firm Hassell’s role in the project included the design of the base building and interiors that respond to healthy workplace precedents drawn from case studies published by Medibank itself. Collaborating with Hassell were Chris Connell Design, Kerry Phelan Design Office, and Russell & George. The objective was a building that would help Medibank thrive. After researching key topics such as psychology of exercise and causes of absenteeism, Hassell worked with its partners to realize a building and an interior that are hardwired for health.

At the core of their design is a central atrium and staircase that spirals up from the street. A bike ramp at the bottom of the stairs feeds into the building. As it ascends, the stairway becomes the spine around which Medibank’s 30,500 m2 of flowing office space operates. Encouraging physical activity throughout the day, stairs and ramps enable staff and visitors to move freely and intuitively between floors and offices, while breaking down the mental and physical barriers of spatial constraints, generating a new form of working, and representing Medibank’s three-pronged vision of health as a holistic state of mind, body and social engagement.

Photos Earl Carter


This article debuted in Frame 106 alongside a host of inspirational interviews and projects. Find your copy in the Frame store.


Sibling's work appears in The Other Office 2, released in December 2015. For more information about this book and to order your copy, head over to the Frame store.

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