Headquarters for Birkenstock Australia


  • Melbourne Design Studios (Architecture)
  • Birkenstock Australia (Commissioner)
  • Cibi (Shop Fitout Design)
  • emac constructions (builder)
  • Peter Clarke (Photography)


This project is about inviting and inspiring people. It lets customers and visitors explore the spaces, and it allows them to experience the brand’s core values through the design. It sets a benchmark in sustainability, in healthy workplace design and in combining heritage with quality building and with new ideas.

A central ‘Australian’ courtyard makes the different departments of the company visible and allows public interaction and education, e.g. at weekend markets, live music, guided tours, etc. It re-defines the traditional concept of retailing, and looks at its future instead.

Key Features


Promoting Health
Birkenstocks are healthy shoes, and architecture and interieur reflect that. The design comprises sustainable and low VOC materials, and any unwanted emissions in the air get filtered and cleansed by carefully selected \’air-purifiers\’ : Natural plants that form a substantial part of the design. They also act as privacy screens in lieu of office partitions


Promoting Health (2)

A central island unit in the office doubles as a standing desk, allowing staff to move around with their mobile computers and reconfigured aeroplane trolleys (these hold people’s personal filing). There is also an option to move outside and work on one of the decks for a while, rather than straining back and eyes in a typical office environment all day.


Environmental Sustainability

The north-facing shopfront display inserted into the heritage building is a double facade with 2 layers of operable glazing (and some greenery in-between). Adapting to climate conditions, both layers can be operated independently, thus acting like a greenhouse or allowing to flush hot air out and inviting cross ventilation in.


Environmental Sustainability (2)

Crafted timber slat screens from local sustainable forests shade and protect, while also allowing ventilation through when the glass behind is open. 
Periscope-like highlights in the upstairs office space take southern daylight (ideal for office work) to the desks, reducing need for artificial lighting. The north-facing back of these \’periscopes\’ hold Photovoltaics and Solar HWS, which also feature on the workshop roof.

With both passive and active ESD systems incl the integrated indoor planting, daylight strategies, added thermal mass and a thermally improved building envelope, the new Birkenstock building has become a thoroughly sustainable headquarter.


Social Sustainability

The open plan offices encourage team work instead of hierarchical structures. The central \’island\’ also invites team members to a discussion, or a quick chat over a freshly-made coffee at the Barista end of the unit.
Combining wholesale, retail, workshop, warehouse, online shop and lots of shared spaces into the one headquarter premise also helps creating a coherent company culture. By using the shopfront as a main entrance for all, everyone experiences the \’front of house\’, where the shoe meets the customer. Feedback from both public and brand retailers so far has been enormous and 100% positive.

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