After 35 years at its Lennox St Richmond address in Melbourne, design practice Tract Consultants is on the move due to staff numbers outgrowing the current space and the building being sold for redevelopment.

It is now taking up the entire top floor of Mirvac’s 6 Riverside Quay, comprising 1360 square metres of office space and a 190 sq m outdoor balcony overlooking the river and CBD.

Managing director Dieter Lim said Tract undertook the original planning design work for Southbank in the 1980s, and now its people would be able to look out over their work and how it has come to fruition.

Another major positive for the “millennials” among the staff, he said, was the improved access to active transport including trains, trams, major cycle routes and walking. Flinders Street Station’s platforms are just a 200 metre walk away.

Deiter Lim, Tract Consultants.

Over the past 12 months, the consultancy’s Melbourne office has added 30 staff across landscape architecture, urban design and town planning, bringing the total number to around 110 – an increase of about 40 per cent.

Nationally, there are more than 170 staff members in total, with offices also in Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Geelong.

Current projects include infrastructure projects across road and rail in South Australia and Victoria, hospitals, residential, student housing, tourism and schools.

“We are also doing a lot of regional work,” Mr Lim said.

Vertical schools

The team is working on three vertical schools projects in Melbourne: South Melbourne Primary, South Melbourne Park Primary and Prahran High School.

Designed by Hayball, South Melbourne Primary was the first vertical school to be approved in Melbourne. It won the Future Project of the Year Award at the 2016 World Architecture Awards in Berlin.

Tract provided the integrated landscape architecture design for the project.

In addition to learning spaces for around 500 students, the development includes community facilities comprising an early learning centre, maternal and child health consulting rooms, a food hub, multi-purpose rooms, and indoor and outdoor sport and recreation courts.

Sustainability now an easier sell

Mr Lim said it was becoming easier to get clients to take on sustainability as part of projects.

All the infrastructure projects, for example, are obtaining ISCA ratings.

“The schools are also very high on wanting to meet the sustainability requirements set by the department [of education],” Mr Lim said.

For the private developers, such as the residential projects, sustainability is part of meeting corporate objectives.

Residential developments the consultancy is currently providing services for include multi-residential and greenfield projects for ISPT, inner-urban multi-res developments for CBUS and various projects for new landlord Mirvac.

Mr Lim said the team was currently looking at what options there would be for adding gardens to the balcony of the new digs. It is also investigating products such as Junglefy’s breathing walls for the interior to improve indoor air quality.

No thanks to ABW

The planned fitout will not take the full agile working pathway, he said.

There will be desks for each staff member, however there will also be spaces such as window booths staff can use if they want to “decouple” from their desk for a while.

The office will also increase the amount of collaboration space available, and be flexible, so desks can be moved to bring teams working on projects together.

As much of the existing fitout and furniture currently in use at Lennox St as has useful life left in it will be retained.

“We plan on taking all the stuff that isn’t nailed down, and will try and re-use as much as possible.”

Mr Lim said the plan was to be working from the new location from August.

“We will be not far from our roots,” he said. “There’s a nice synergy.”