Australian Architecture Firm Designs a Warm, Community-Building Office

The design of a new architecture studio in Surry Hills NSW invites community and collaboration. 

Australia architecture practice Hayball co-created its new studio in Surry Hills NSW with interior design collaborator Bettina Steffens, with principles of community and collaboration at the heart of the design. The studio exudes warmth with its natural materials, such as timber, plywood and glass, and with its array of spaces, in which Hayball staff, clients, school groups or family members can feel at home.

Drawing heavily on their research into learning environments, Hayball’s new Surry Hills studio will accommodate future growth and the capacity to service a greater number of projects, including recent project wins such as a new joint use library and multiple education and residential sector projects.

Hayball Studio achieves warmth with its wood materials used throughout the office. Image courtesy of Lochland Brookman.
Hayball Studio achieves warmth with its wood materials used throughout the office. Image courtesy of Lochland Brookman. 

When was the project completed?

2018

How much space?

450 square meters; 11.25 square meters per person

Was this new or renovated space?

Renovated

How many employees?

29, but the space is designed to enable 40

What is the average daily population?

25 on average

Is there a mobile work or work from home policy?

Employees can work from home if they need to and are equipped with all required materials to be able to work remotely.

Employee wellness was a huge consideration, and the office features bike storage and showers to encourage an active lifestyle. Image courtesy of Lochland Brookman.
Employee wellness was a huge consideration, and the office features bike storage and showers to encourage an active lifestyle. Image courtesy of Lochland Brookman.

Describe workspace types. 

To enable movement and choice across the office, the studio offers a variety of workplace settings, including automated standing desks; small group booths; library spaces; workshop and maker spaces. We were also keen to include spaces that are influenced by our work in the residential sector such as data enabled kitchen and dining areas that promote informal collaboration in a familiar, more domestic environment.

Each team member is provided with a toolkit that’s mobile: a laptop; a tray with all their analogue drawing equipment; a locker for end of trip facilities and a local storage locker in the office that becomes a home for their items, a substitute for a traditional desk.

What kind of meeting spaces are provided?

The studio includes a number of informal yet professional break out rooms, allowing for community members and clients to come in for workshops and focus groups.

Family was also an important design factor, especially for meeting spaces: “Hayball is home to a number of parents, so we wanted to ensure the space was suitable for people to bring their children in. Rooms are multipurpose such as our whiteboard room (where every surface is writeable) serves as both a brainstorm room, a kid’s play spaces with toys and a boardroom that gets used as regularly for table tennis as for meetings,” said Tordoff.

What other kind of support space or amenity spaces are provided?

The health and wellbeing of our team is a priority. Spaces for play are given equal importance to other work activities to promote participation, activity and movement to create opportunities for staff to interact and truly engage with one another. We have incorporated standard end of trip facilities such as bike storage and showers to encourage more active lifestyles; whilst a team plant selection program fosters inclusivity, a sense of ownership and wellbeing.

There are also multipurpose meeting rooms which can serve as kid’s play spaces for the children of our employees.

What is the projects location and proximity to public transportation and/or other amenities?

The project is located in Surry Hills, which is in the heart of Sydney’s inner city. This is a dynamic and bustling area, with a central train station and extensive bus route in close proximity.

Was the C-suite involved in the project planning and design process? If so, how?

Yes, the Sydney Studio Directors, Fiona Young and David Tordoff were involved and were an integral part of the planning and design process.

"Hayball is home to a number of parents, so we wanted to ensure the space was suitable for people to bring their children in," according to Hayball Sydney Studio Director David Tordoff. Image courtesy of Brett Boardman.
“Hayball is home to a number of parents, so we wanted to ensure the space was suitable for people to bring their children in,” according to Hayball Sydney Studio Director David Tordoff. Image courtesy of Brett Boardman.

What kind of programming or visioning activities were used?

A workshop was run with all staff at the beginning of the process to capture the essence of how the staff aspired to work in the future. They worked in groups to envisage future scenarios and were also asked to share images of what they thought might be interesting for the future office.

Were any pre-planning surveys conducted to get employee input?

Hayball always does a deep dive into and organisation’s values, vision and how they use the space which it comes to our education and commercial space projects – so the exact same process was conducted with Hayball staff for the Sydney Studio. Everyone on the team are design experts and understand how they best like to work, so their input was extremely valuable in the design.

Were any change management initiatives employed?

Building awareness among employees was an important initiative.

Please describe any program requirements that were unique or required any special research or design requirements.

The studio needed to be an exemplar office environment and prototype to test new workplace settings – this was particularly important as Hayball undertakes a wide range of education and commercial space projects which we are always looking to feed further research into. Hayball’s Melbourne and Brisbane offices are also pegged to undergo a refurbishment soon, making the Sydney Studio a very important exemplar office for us.

Also, principles of community and collaboration had to be at the heart of the design.

The office features spaces where community and collaboration can occur. Image courtesy of Brett Boardman.
The office features spaces where community and collaboration can occur. Image courtesy of Brett Boardman.

Were there any special or unusual construction materials or techniques employed in the project?

The studio space is constructed using natural materials of timber, plywood and glass which helps to enhance warmth, light and comfort in the office. Bespoke volumetric joinery elements are used throughout to define various specialist workspace settings. The surfaces in the whiteboard room were also unusual materials used.

What products or service solutions are making the biggest impact in your space?

The ‘library’ table (Molloy by Adam Goodrum) – the scale and spaciousness of this table has encouraged people to come together at a central point in the office for both individual work, collaborative work and larger forums.

Elin Storage Caddy – these are used by the team in the Sydney Studio for their mobile toolkits and have become well adopted.

What was the hard cost?

The final cost/spm construction came to $1400

What kind of branding elements were incorporated into the design? 

Hayball signage at front

To enable movement and choice across the office, the studio offers a variety of workplace settings. Image courtesy of Brett Boardman.
To enable movement and choice across the office, the studio offers a variety of workplace settings. Image courtesy of Brett Boardman.

What is the most unique feature of the new space?

The use of timber in the space which creates a sense of warmth.

Are there any furnishings or spaces specifically included to promote wellness/wellbeing?

  • Spaces for play given equal importance to promote participation, activity and movement
  • End of trip facilities like bike storage and showers provided to encourage more active lifestyles among staff
  • Space designed to be suitable for staff to bring their children into e.g. whiteboard room (where every surface is writeable) serves as both a brainstorm room and kid’s play space, the boardroom can be used for meetings and to play table tennis

What kind of technology products were used?

To enable movement and choice across the office, the studio offers a variety of workplace settings, including automated standing desks. Spaces such as a data enabled kitchen and dining area, that are influenced by Hayball’s work in the residential sector, were also included to promote more informal collaboration in a familiar, more domestic environment.

What kind of technology products were used?

To enable movement and choice across the office, the studio offers a variety of workplace settings, including automated standing desks. Spaces such as a data enabled kitchen and dining area, that are influenced by Hayball’s work in the residential sector, were also included to promote more informal collaboration in a familiar, more domestic environment.

Each team member is provided with a toolkit that’s mobile: a laptop; a tray with all their analogue drawing equipment; a locker for end of trip facilities and a local storage locker in the office that becomes a home for their items, a substitute for a traditional desk. Image courtesy of Lochland Brookman.
Each team member is provided with a toolkit that’s mobile: a laptop; a tray with all their analogue drawing equipment; a locker for end of trip facilities and a local storage locker in the office that becomes a home for their items, a substitute for a traditional desk. Image courtesy of Lochland Brookman.

If the company relocated to new space, what was the most difficult aspect of the change for the employees?

Adjusting to the change of practice asked of them, to now move around in a flexible working space.

How did the company communicate about the changes and moves?

As it was an inclusive approach from the beginning, there was a constant stream of communication throughout. The team also has a morning tea every Monday to discuss these sorts of changes

Were there post occupancy surveys?

A workshop will be run soon to receive employee feedback in a more formal setting. Findings from this workshop will also help to inform research for future projects.

The studio includes a number of informal yet professional break out rooms, allowing for community members and clients to come in for workshops and focus groups. Image courtesy of Lochland Brookman.
The studio includes a number of informal yet professional break out rooms, allowing for
community members and clients to come in for workshops and focus groups. Image courtesy of Lochland Brookman.

If so, what were the most surprising or illuminating or hoped-for results?

Thus far, employees have relayed that they feel the new space really supports positive staff interaction and collaboration. They have also said that they really like bringing external visitors such as clients into the space due to the warmth of the environment and sense of community created.

Tell us more!

Architect: Hayball 

Interior Design Collaborator: Bettina Steffens

These small group booths are one of the variety of workspaces the new office offers. Image courtesy of Lochland Brookman.
These small group booths are one of the variety of workspaces the new office offers. Image courtesy of Lochland Brookman.
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