german footwear company birkenstock has settled their australian headquarters in the area of clifton hill in melbourne. the new headquarters boasts a design that has been developed with sustainability as the main focus, while following birkenstock’s core values; honesty and integrity, sustainability, quality and craftsmanship.

all images © peter clarke



occupying a refurbished two-storey heritage shop façade that can be completely opened to the streetscape, the birkenstock HQ was conceived by the architects at melbourne design studios (MDS). the double façade with two layers of operable glazing open onto a living grass floor and a deciduous tree to invite customers into the rustic interior which continues to incorporate greenery into all-aspects of the interior. in total, the building is composed of a retail shopfront, e-commerce, wholesale, offices and showrooms, workshop, courtyard and warehouse with mezzanine.

once a boot manufacturer, the building was reinvented by locally based firm melbourne design studio



throughout, the new headquarters apply techniques to promote a healthy and comfortable working environment for the birkenstock employees. low VOC materials, sustainable forested and recycled timber used, carbon neutral target, carefully positioned skylights to maximize southern light are all techniques used. at the center of the building, a courtyard modeled as an australian landscape featuring timber sleepers and a water tank provides a break-out space for socializing.

selected plants are positioned throughout the building as ‘air purifiers’



meanwhile partitioning and traditional dividers have been eliminated between desks to to encourage collaboration, innovation and communication. melbourne design studios founding director marc bernstein-hussmann explains how the studio opted to integrate the different departments of birkenstock into a single company culture through the sustainable design: ‘some staff amenities are shared between the building levels so retail and wholesale staff can meet in the middle throughout the working day, avoiding isolation,‘ he said. ‘creating a green environment within an existing, heritage building is much more challenging than a new build. coincidentally over a hundred years ago the building was conceived for a boot manufacturer. we’ve reinvented an almost derelict building to live and breathe its owners’ values.’

periscope-like skylights maximize southern light thus reducing the need for artificial lighting

the brick walls have been kept with the insertion of a new ceiling and additional floor plates

the interior highlights birkenstock’s core values; honesty and integrity, sustainability, quality and craftsmanship

traditional dividers have been eliminated between desks to to encourage collaboration

the north facing shopfront has a double-façade with two layers of operable glazing

the central courtyard is modelled as an australian landscape

the heritage shop front in clifton hill with a living grass floor and deciduous tree







    have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.

    comments policy
    LOG IN
    designboom's comment policy guidelines
    generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
    the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

    what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
    let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

    - please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
    - please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
    - please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
    - please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
    - please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
    (there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
    in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
    the best 100-200 entries too.)

    a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.


    a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

    architecture news