BDAV Building Design of the Year 2014

Birkenstock Australia HQ by Melbourne Design Studios wins the 2014 Building Design of the Year

Melbourne Design Studios won the BDAV’s 2014 Building Design of the Year for their Birkenstock Australia HQ project. This exemplary design project also won the awards for Non-Residential Design – Alterations/Additions, Interior Design – Non-Residential, and Excellence in Use of Timber.

The project also won the award for Best Alteration/Addition – Non-Residential in the NABD’s 2014 Design Awards.

A neglected two-storey heritage-listed building in Clifton Hill has been converted into Birkenstock’s headquarters which has set new benchmarks for sustainable office environments and the future of retail.

The design translated Birkenstock’s core values into joyful spatial experiences, intuitively illustrating the brand’s commitment to quality, craftsmanship, sustainability, honesty and a healthy lifestyle.

The Judges said design consideration had been applied to every aspect of the project without appearing overworked.

“This project does not just pay lip-service to sustainability. It is obvious that staff well-being and connectivity, customer experience and the Birkenstock philosophy have all been carefully considered,” said the Judges.

“Refined space planning, the selection of natural and sustainable materials, recycled elements, extensive use of indoor planting and natural light show a maturity in considering the building, its users, customers, and the natural environment.”

“The design team’s control over all aspects of the project is apparent in the uncompromised design resolution. Design consideration has been applied to every aspect of this project, down to the tiniest detail – and yet it never feels or looks overworked.”

“The planning and integration of various departments, the selection of finishes and materials, and the sophisticated and highly-crafted detailing all belie a mature resolution that reflects the holistic culture of the Birkenstock brand.

“The design response has reinvigorated a neglected two-storey building and restored it lovingly, integrating modern detailing and playful reinterpretations of existing structures and building elements. The fitout pays homage to the robust interior fabric – the exposed brick walls, ceiling structure and existing fenestration – and breathes new life into this fabric with integrity.

“Visually, the project delights, surprises and nourishes at every turn. Detailing such as the real ‘front lawn’, the embossed foot on the front entry slatted wall, the ‘History Channel’, the brick shelving, the doorway from retail to wholesale showroom, and workshop design, all reflect a commitment to craftsmanship, quality and beauty in design.

“Birkenstock’s reputation for natural and robust footwear is reflected in design elements such as the open fireplace, rich timbers, the mezzanine space, and even the signage treatments throughout the project.

“Architecturally, the designers have created an exciting and beautifully resolved exterior, connecting the various functions of the building via a central courtyard. Sensitive reinterpretation of the existing structure, and re-use of much of the existing fabric, has ensured longevity for this old building.

Melbourne Design Studios director Marc Bernstein-Hussmann said nature formed an integral part of the headquarters’ design.

“The Birkenstock brand stands for sustainability, quality and craftsmanship. We ensured these elements were reflected in every design choice for their new headquarters and retail experience,” he said. “The main consideration was to create a healthy and beautiful environment that not only reflected the Birkenstock brand, but also lived and breathed it.”

Every element of this project has been resolved skilfully. The result is a truly beautiful building, highly worthy of the BDAV’s top award for ‘Building Design of the Year 2014’.


Designer:  Melbourne Design Studios Pty Ltd
Builder: Emac Constructions
Photographer: Peter Clarke & Marc Bernstein-Hussmann

To view videos of Marc Bernstein from Melbourne Design Studios at the BDAV’s 2014 Building Design Awards and at the 2014 NABD Awards, click on the respective link.


Birkenstock Australia HQ by Melbourne Design Studios
Birkenstock Australia HQ by Melbourne Design Studios - Images: Peter Clarke & Marc Bernstein-Hussmann