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Above: Jeremy Brand enjoys his laneway office Photo: Simon Schluter
“Instead of squeezing a business into a formulaic box, opportunities are sought to design buildings that can facilitate what is going on inside. These buildings express the nature of the organisation inside and facilitate the organisation’s work.”
– The Architecture & Design Forecast 2016
Melbourne’s laneways have been a hotspot for the latest bars and restaurants for over a decade, but it’s the business community that is now discovering the benefits of becoming a part of this vibrant community.
The Age reports that some progressive Australian companies are now beginning to move away from the orthodox leasing of a high-rise room and towards the purchase of older, lower-level floors – spaces which they can convert and make their own. Law partner Jeremy Brand recently exited his lease in a CBD tower and bought out a floor in a building in one of Melbourne’s laneways, which he then renovated.
Purchasing a floor in comparison to renting out a high-rise office allows the business to make it theirs, to take the reigns when it comes to design and to bring an aesthetic to the office that reflects the company, as Brand did.
“You get a perfect opportunity for firms such as my own to purchase their own properties and be masters of their own destinies,” he told The Age.
The Research Agency (TRA) in Auckland similarly approached their new office space last year. After acquiring the top floor of a Heritage building, TRA enlisted Jose Guttierez Architecture to rework and invigorate it with a design that physically represented the company’s essence and persona.
The Architecture & Design Forecast 2016 suggests the importance and possible payoff of a purposefully and well-designed office, noting that DEGW (a global leader in workplace consultancy) has predicted “the potential leverage on productivity from procuring better quality design could be immense.”
The notion of companies purchasing low-level office spaces within older laneway establishments not only presents the opportunity for free design and the charm of an older building, but also brings with it the inclusion of hospitality alongside the workplace, and an alternate lifestyle to that which comes with the modern high-rise rental model. An office in a Melbourne alleyway, for example, occupies an existing hub of cafés, restaurants, and boutiques, all right outside of the office.
The Forecast observes the growing connection between work and hospitality – with social spaces such as cafés being included within office buildings themselves. Companies moving their offices into the depth of food and drink hotspots such as lane ways can be considered an extension of this trend, concreting the crossing of corporate and hospitality paths and adding a new element to the future of the workplace.
To find out more on the Forecast, visit future.australiandesignreview.com
Now in its eleventh year, Shaw Contract’s Design Awards program honors architecture and design firms that are changing the way people engage and interact with a space.