Joining Forces
St Paul’s Square is a 13-storey office tower and podium building located in the heart of Wellington’s Government precinct.

Primary motivators for redeveloping the 16,000sqm building were to provide the opportunity for the Department of Internal Affairs to consolidate their property footprint and bring staff together under one roof, and to form a modern, functional precinct with the National Library and Archives of New Zealand.

The key objectives stipulated to the design team were to achieve a workplace that’s reflective of the client’s heritage and culture; a welcoming environment for staff and visitors; and a workplace that can be efficiently adapted to meet changing needs.


From consultation to handover, the project took three years to complete. The redevelopment has transformed an extremely dated government building into one that encourages synergy between the two departments.

The project included seismic strengthening, refurbishment and replacement of existing services, a new fit-out on all floors for the Department of Internal Affairs, new canopies, wind lobbies on the ground floor, as well as completely repainting the external structure. Inside, a new lift was installed, as well as the upgrade and fit-out of the five existing lifts.

The lifts formed an integral part of the design and construction process. The new podium lift required floor openings and a new lift shaft structure to be created. While the lifts are central to mobility, a centralised high-architectural-finish staircase encourages people to climb the stairs.

“To see the space now in use and how we transformed an old building into a great space is fantastic,” says James Ainsworth, project engineer at Hawkins.


The St Paul’s project created an opportunity to design an efficient and contemporary workplace that better supports people to work smarter and collaborate more easily. Activity Based Working (ABW) principles – considered the next stage in the evolution of the open-plan office – were incorporated into the design.

Catalyst Architects was tasked with creating a collaborative and productive workplace that suited the diverse requirements and desires of an organisation spanning more than 1000 employees. With flexibility at the forefront of design, workspaces function on activity based ratio of 80 desks to 100 people.


This project was challenging in all the right ways says Tessa Leonard, lead designer at Catalyst. “Amalgamating three buildings and dozens of teams into new, flexible, activity-based based working style was no easy feat.”

The result not only provides a fit-for-purpose building and workspace that enables better partnership and utilisation of space, it’s an engaging space to be in.