The future of workplaces – what’s going to happen next?
Steve Coster, Head of Knowledge and Sustainability at HASSELL, was one of the presenters at the Workplaces of the Future Summit hosted this week in Melbourne by the Green Building Council of Australia. He spoke about where the current changes in technology, workplace behaviours and the uptake of free-range working (or activity-based working) are leading workplace design – what’s in store next?
"We're now reaching a point where organisations can become so flexible - so dynamic - that their internal structures become more fluid and their borders become less fixed," said Steve. The uptake of flexible working, teleworking and co-working means that the office takes on many forms and is a series of nodes in a network of places across the city, rather than a ‘container’ for an organisation. These issues make design more critical than ever in creating places that people want to use to work effectively – especially for working that requires bringing people together.
Learning environments, student hubs, libraries and co-working spaces are now more relevant reference points for leading workplace design than traditional workplaces. One workplace that demonstrates these drivers is Hub Melbourne – a co-working community that blurs the traditional organisational boundaries to foster innovation through collaboration. Hub Melbourne provides a shared workplace for a range of diverse, independent member organisations who want to come together for the opportunities, skills and resources, and referrals that exist among the member community.
"Co-working is an emerging phenomenon that raises new issues and opportunities for organisations - issues that are also present for traditional workplaces but are taken to the next level in co-working settings. It is a window into a way of working that is likely to be more mainstream in future. One key issue is the importance of creating an authentic and meaningful environment where people gather because they want to - not because they have to," said Steve in his presentation at the Summit.
Other key aspects of co-working communities that are relevant to workplaces of the future include much greater intensity of usage and diversity of workspaces – more extreme choices of settings for different activities, and more immediately adjacent activities. Also critical is the degree of self-organisation – the ability for the users to move and reconfigure the space at the speed of their dynamic business. Of course. the integration of fundamental wireless technology networks and special pieces of high-specification technologies for members to share gives them access to possibilities they wouldn't otherwise have.
Steve and Hub Melbourne also featured in Australian business publication BRW this week as part of an article on collaborative work spaces, which looked at the death of the permanent desk and the more frugal use of space within offices.
Read the full article in BRW here
It's official: we're big, but does size matter?
HASSELL is the 31st biggest architecture practice in the world, based on the number of architects we employ, according to an international survey of leading practices. We are ranked the second largest architectural practice in landscape architecture, the seventh in interior design, and the ninth in master planning and transportation by revenue. We are the biggest practice overall in Australasia, in terms of earnings. So we are BIG, according to the WA100 for 2013, a list of the world's largest 100 architecture firms.
But the rankings raise a much debated question: does size matter in architecture and design? Some of the world's most exciting practices - for example BIG, Herzog + De Meuron and Jean Nouvel - aren't listed, perhaps because they did not take part in the survey. There are great architects and designers working for large and small practices, according to HASSELL Managing Director Rob Backhouse.
One thing the list does demonstrate is the increasingly international way in which practices operate. "Design and architecture are increasingly global, whether the projects are big or small," Rob Backhouse said. "We can win a hospital project in Australia or China and ask our studios in the UK to work on it because they have some of the best talent in Europe in the health field. Technology is making this kind of collaboration across our 14 studios easier all the time. But the big change is probably in the mindset of our design teams. They just don't see themselves as limited by geography."
Technology makes it easier for small practices to compete outside their home markets. But size DOES matter, allowing practices to build a strong, international talent pool. But size is not a guarantee of design excellence and buildings and places that meet the needs of clients and end-users.
"HASSELL has not grown its practice just because we wanted to be big", Rob Backhouse said. "We have grown along with our clients and with opportunities. As a result, we can compete for the best projects locally and globally and attract the best designers who want to work on those projects."
For the record, the WA100 ranking of HASSELL at 31 is based on the number of qualified "fee-earning architects" that HASSELL employs, a number that excludes our landscape architects, interior designers, urban designers and planners. The rankings are compiled each year by the United Kingdom based magazine Building Design. The list is based on a survey of architecture firms in October 2012.
HASSELL operates 14 design studios in Australia, China, South East Asia and the United Kingdom. In 2012, our work was recognised with the top awards in three categories at the World Architectural Festival.
Peter Duncan interviewed about toxic smog in China
HASSELL Chairman Peter Duncan was interviewed by Bloomberg News on the toxic smog engulfing Beijing and other Chinese cities. He spoke on how urban planning can help reduce the need for automobile use and the role of public transportation in lessening the impact on the environment.
With China's cities expected to grow by as many as 350 million people over 20 years, the Chinese government has foreshadowed action to reduce air pollution.
The article was translated and carried by the official Xinhua News Agency and published by its affiliated newspaper, the largest-circulation daily in China distributed to government departments and state-owned companies.
To read the Bloomberg article and Peter’s comments, click here.
Find out more about Sydney's new light rail
HASSELL, together with Arup and Aurecon, are the engineering, light rail systems and urban design team commissioned by Transport for NSW to deliver the new light rail project in Sydney's CBD and South Eastern suburbs.
The New South Wales Government has committed to deliver light rail from Randwick and Kingsford through the heart of Sydney's CBD to Circular Quay to reduce urban congestion. The design challenge is to create a transport system befitting Australia's global city, integrating the physical infrastructure into existing urban areas of distinctive character and significant heritage value to establish a sensitive and high-quality public domain.
You can find out more details about the project in this new video
Margaret River centre to be reinvigorated
HASSELL has been engaged by the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River to redesign the main streetscape of the Margaret River township in the heart of Western Australia's popular south-west wine region.
The HASSELL design seeks to reinvigorate the public realm through the expansion of public space, widening pavements to reduce the impact of vehicles and creating opportunities for al fresco dining, markets and festival activities.
New street furniture, lighting, surface treatments and interpretive elements, referencing the rich cultural and natural vernacular of the region, will enhance this vibrant social centre for residents and visitors.
Margaret River Main Street is a 'SuperTowns' project funded by the Government of Western Australia's 'Royalties for Regions' initiative. 'SuperTowns' seeks to target sustainable regional economic development to stimulate diverse employment and investment opportunities, assist in managing projected population expansion in key regional towns, and plan and invest in development and growth within an integrated strategic planning and implementation framework.
A jungle with your morning coffee?
Coffee and the cafes that sell it are ubiquitous in the world's major cities - but how about a jungle of coffee trees on the edge of a central business district?
That's what HASSELL is bringing to the Australian city of Melbourne in partnership with the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival presented by Bank of Melbourne. The work of young designers at HASSELL, the Urban Coffee Farm and Brew Bar will be the centrepiece of this year's Festival which runs from 1 to 17 March.
A total of 125 coffee trees will transform the 'Red Stairs', a popular public amphitheatre on the banks of Melbourne's River Yarra, into a terraced coffee farm. Alongside the trees, a collection of shipping containers, timber pallets and packing crates will demonstrate the journey that coffee beans take from where they are grown to the lips of a big city coffee connoisseur.
The inspiration for the Urban Coffee Farm and Brew Bar comes from a desire to evoke the still somewhat mysterious and exotic geographies associated with the source of coffee. It brings to life the story about coffee, inspiring coffee drinkers to think about its origins, production and transport. They can also enjoy some of the best coffee in Australia from top baristas.
Click here to watch a video about the Urban Coffee Farm concept and design process as told by the HASSELL project team.
HASSELL recognised as hospitality design leader
HASSELL was recently recognised as a hospitality design leader in the Asia Pacific region, winning the Most Competitive Hotel Design Company award at the 2012 Asia Pacific Golden Art Hotel Design Awards.
David Tsui, a Principal in the HASSELL Hong Kong studio, also won the Asia Pacific Top Ten Hospitality Designer Award.
These annual awards are organised by the Asia Pacific Hotel Design Association and attract great interest both in the region and wider.
Some of the notable hospitality projects in Asia that HASSELL has completed include the Radisson Suites Bangkok Sukhumvit, the Radisson Hotel at Century Park and the Renaissance Hotel at Zhongshan Park.
Recently, the Ovolo Hotel also opened in Melbourne as the first Australian venture for Hong Kong's successful Hind Group. The hotel was designed by HASSELL and is aimed at tech-savvy professionals.
Former HASSELL MD’s university appointment
Former HASSELL Managing Director Tim Shannon has been appointed a Professorial Fellow at the University of Melbourne. The appointment in the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning is for four years.
Tim retired from HASSELL in 2008 after 32 years, including 15 as Managing Director. He played a key role in building HASSELL as an international practice working in architecture, interior design, landscape architecture, planning and urban design. His work with HASSELL can be seen in a series of landmark projects in Australia including office towers, hospitals, airports and law courts.
While at HASSELL, Tim's career included a series of teaching appointments at universities in Australia and Canada. He said he always greatly enjoyed working with students and was looking forward to his new appointment. "The university environment is so rich with youthful enthusiasm and willingness," he said.
Tim was appointed a Director of the building and construction company Hansen Yuncken in 2010 and to the Board of the government owned development agency Places Victoria in 2011.
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