Find out more about the universal series stair stair used in this project

Stair Details

Universal Enclose 1750/16
Powder-coated Satin Black
Floorplate Treads
Laser-cut Enclose Balustrade
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More Information:

Over 20 years ago the owner Birkenstock Australia installed a yellow enzie spiral stair in his city showroom in Centreway Arcade Melbourne. The stair was installed by our then newbie Andrew (well he’d only been with us 5 years ). Skip to today and the owner of Bkrkenstock was amazed to see and now more experienced Andrew turn up to install his double flight spiral stair at the rear of his new Australian HQ.

Originally the same design that was used in his Centerplace Arcade was specified, an enzie classic H series spiral staircase. However enzie suggested to the Architect, Melbourne Design Studios, that there would be an opportunity for some branding should the specification be changed to an Enclose design with a laser-cut balustrade design. This design would also offer the benefit of a solid shield balustrade which would add to the perception of safety on this double flight spiral.

The architect was excited but the client was nervous, after all he’d been enjoying the openness and the elegant proportions of his enzie classic spiral stair was over 20 years. Danyelle Miller from Melbourne Design Studios had a solution. She mocked up the two designs and posted it on their Facebook page to gauge the publics response. The feedback was interesting, with votes tallying up for both design however the Enclose narrowly won out. The feedback also lead to changes to the colour and final detailing of the balustrade which lead to the final design as you see it today.

More Information from the Architect:

Project Overview

What sort of shoes are you wearing right now? I’ve got my Birkenstocks on : You know, the healthy shoe, Made in Germany.

When Birkenstock Australia first started talking to us about ideas for their new headquarter, we got really excited. A company that is based on values such as honesty, integrity, sustainability and craftsmanship, and that would like to see these values reflected in their new company headquarters and retail experience ! Isn’t that great?

Retail, wholesale, workshop and online were to be shown as different faces of the same company in the design. From the shopfront entrance, there is a direct connection through to a central courtyard. This is the point from which you can see all the different faces of the enterprise housed different buildings / areas on the site.

Project Commissioner

Birkenstock Australia

Project Creator

Melbourne Design Studios

Project Team

Marc Bernstein-Hussmann, Luke Perry, Danyelle Miller, Felicity Bernstein. Internal Shop Fitout by Cibi. 3D Render Image by Ian Porter.


Project Brief

Birkenstock Australia followed our advice based on an initial feasibility study, and got their hands on a beautiful 2-storey heritage building in Clifton Hill. The building was originally conceived for a boot manufacturer, but had obviously undergone various changes for different uses over the last 100odd years. Asking for sustainable architecture that displays the company’s honest and transparent structure, the clients wanted to set new benchmarks for sustainable office environments and for the future of retail.

A new central core within the retail space connects retail, wholesale, storage and online business. Staff amenities, for example, are half-up half-down between the levels, so that retail staff and wholesale staff get to ‘meet in the middle’ during their working day, avoiding potential development of different ‘company cultures’ within the firm. By using the shopfront as a main entrance for all, everyone experiences the front of house, where the shoe meets the end customer. The new-built workshop out the back and the shopfront both play with handcrafted details on timber slatted screens, as a reference to the crafty workmanship that stands behind the Birkenstock brand.

Project Innovation / Need

To create a more healthy and sustainable environment, ‘air purifiers’ have been incorporated throughout the proposed development, and made an important and integral part of the design. They cleanse the indoor air by removing unhealthy particles and/or volatile organic compounds (VOC). Indoor air quality gets improved substantially.

The magic behind them ?
Very simple : The ‘air purifiers’ are a series of particular indoor plants, with their selection based on latest international research.
A great example for these is the way we designed the team clusters : Removing traditional blockout screens between desks to encourage project communication, each two desks share a slightly higher, double-sided, private locker unit with integrated planting. These allow privacy and interaction at the same time. There is also a re-configured aeroplane trolley for each team member, holding their individual filing, stationary etc : When working at their desks, staff can dock on their individual trollies to the dedicated space at the planting/locker unit.

Design Challenge

Creating a green environment within an existing building is obviously much more challenging than on a new-built. We set out to make this heritage building carbon neutral, and at this stage, it looks like we will be able to achieve that – we’ll update you once the proposal gets built and occupied. Together with the integrated indoor planting, the use of passive systems for heating, cooling, daylight strategies etc, the Birkenstock building will become a truly sustainable headquarter.

Clients’ comments :
“Melbourne Design Studios have captured the essence of what we stand for as a brand, and are currently in the process of converting that into our new sustainable headquarters. They have been able to take our requirements and suggestions, they’ve shaken them up, and out poured all these amazing new ideas.”


A holistic approach to sustainability, including environmental, social and economic sustainability ideas, have driven this design.
A slatted timber screen shades and protects the facade, but when the glass behind is opened, it allows ventilation through at the same time. Cleverly crafted elements like this help to reduce heating and cooling. Periscope-like highlights in the upstairs of?ce space bring natural southern daylight to the desks, reducing the need for arti?cial lighting. The north-facing back of these ‘periscopes’ is designed to hold Photovoltaics and Solar HWS. Materials (eg E0 plywood) have been selected based on their green credentials.

The open plan offices encourage team work instead of hierarchical structures. The layout allows employees to work in different positions and at different places throughout the day. A separate ‘quiet room’ can be used for private meetings or if someone needs to retreat with their work for a while. The desks are laid out around a central ‘island’, inviting team members to a discussion or a quick chat over a freshly-made coffee at the Barista end of the unit. This area can also be used as a high desk, encoruaging staff to work in different healthy positions rather than just having to sit at their desk all day. The re-configured aeroplane trolleys are docked in under the central unit when not in use, or can be taken along when staff work from a different space, allowing true fexibility both short and long-term.

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