Designed for collaboration: Chow:Hill’s Hamilton studio places wellbeing at its core.
Take 10 architects, put them in a room, and you’ll get 20 opinions… or so the saying goes. So just how did the Chow:Hill team agree on a new design for their Hamilton studio? Richard Hill, Chow:Hill’s co-founder and Brian Rastrick, Chow:Hill Hamilton director, explain the process behind the studio’s new collaborative space.
It was once the Hamilton office of a rental car company but after a major refurbishment Chow:Hill’s Hamilton studio looks as far from an old car garage as could be. Located in the south of Hamilton’s CBD, and just a few doors down from one of the best coffee shops in town, Chow:Hill’s Hamilton studio has a rather quirky but memorable street face, complemented by a thoroughly remodelled contemporary interior.
Chow:Hill Hamilton director, Brian Rastrick, says the focus of the refurbishment was to turn an outdated office environment into a workspace that people wanted. “We needed the space to be engaging, somewhere that inspired our staff and encouraged them to be more creative and innovative thinkers. Our number one driver was to create a space that people wanted to work in.”
A more collaborative workspace with areas for staff breakout sits inline with Chow:Hill’s commitment of supporting a culture of wellness and breakout spaces. The additional space allows for a staff area, soft seating, natural light with a window seat and a setting for collaborative design sessions or internal meetings.
“We’ve delineated the studio environment from the breakout area of the office,” explains Brian. “Having these clearly defined yet open spaces and being able to seamlessly move and work between the two has been one of the best outcomes.”
Collaborative co-design space
Creating an open plan collaborative configuration may sound relatively straightforward, but the intricacies of the refurbishment project Brian and Chow:Hill co-founder Richard Hill were tasked with, were anything but, not to mention the fact the ‘client’ was a team of architects and design professionals.
“They say if you put 10 architects into a room you get 20 opinions,” laughs Richard. “Thoughts and ideas from our staff made a significant contribution to the design.”
“Our staff’s desire for a more modern, up to date, collaborative workspace was definitely a key design driver,” adds Brian.
Richard says communication was carefully planned throughout the project with regular updates informing the wider team of each stage of the process. “There were drawings on the wall available for comment and the project was a regular subject of discussion at staff meetings. I think it was probably the decision on carpet design which went on the longest,” he says.
Foster Construction undertook the project, having a longstanding relationship with Chow:Hill over many years in business. Meanwhile, managing and minimising the disruption to the team was paramount for Richard. “We had to ensure staff could carry on working while the refurbishment was in progress but planning for that comes at the start. For example, we’d agreed with Fosters that when needed they’d come in early, before our team started work, or on weekends. We also negotiated the same arrangement with Eastside Refrigeration who installed the new air conditioning system. We made every effort we could to limit the interference and that meant defining the construction methodology before work started.”
The studio’s refurbishment is on par with the growing demand from clients to design workplaces with wellness in mind and is an exemplar of how modern design practices, thoughtful planning and reorganisation of an existing space can significantly enhance building utilisation. It also reflects Chow:Hill’s interest in, and commitment too, sustainability.
“Repurposing a building is a very sustainable way to approach architecture,” Richard says. “If you can use an existing building and relife it with refreshed space planning, modern materials, finishes and energy efficient building services and contemporary technology, then that’s a very responsible thing to do.”
Though once a rental car garage, Chow:Hill’s relifed office now provides contemporary work spaces which invite connection, collaboration and creativity.
Looking to create a collaborative workspace in your office? Stop by and ask the team for a tour of Chow:Hill’s refurbished Hamilton studio, then grab a coffee from Dora’s on your way out.
June 21, 2019