RMIT Interior Design

Anthony Fryatt, Introduction [×]

This design studio was developed as a collaboration with the multidisciplinary design firm Bates Smart to examine the potential of co-working and what the future of this interior typology of workplace might be. 
Students examined how the co-working the phenomenon has evolved from self-employed pioneers such as Brad Neuberg to the established workplace typology it is now – a significant industry of global and local brands with a broad variety of business and community models. The desires, motivations and modes of co-working were considered, these were then extended through design prototypes that introduced partner brands into the co-working space through short term technology-driven experiences. 
During the studio, the impact of COVID-19 brought an abrupt and radical change to working patterns and the co-working industry. In response, the final brief established a future scenario where workers alternate between remote home working and less frequent visits to centralised HQs. Students were asked to develop a series of new co-working prototypes that rapidly and opportunistically facilitated a shift of co-working to a dispersed model throughout Melbourne’s inner and outer suburbs. 
Key requirements included the development of a rapid and scalable strategy for relocating a co-working brand over the short and mid-term, identification of emotional drivers and pragmatic needs of users, and building brand awareness in new locations through flexible leasing arrangements. Students then developed a series of prototypes that considered intended experience, new modes of safe working, alternative networking opportunities and a rethinking of adjacencies, relationships and amenities for workers. 

Dr. Anthony Fryatt
Program Manager, Bachelor of Interior Design (Honours)

Group I, Local Working [×]

New approaches to working and the workplace have been amplified with the impact of Covid-19. As the rates of infection from public transport has increased, many workers are hesitant to use certain facilities for travelling to the office. Adopting the Space & Co co-working brand, the following projects shift focus on smaller venues with safer localised working environments for its members within 3 separate locations. Each site aims to provide what is best for their community, cultures and co-working needs.

A site in Sydney Road, Coburg offers an opportunity for Space and Co to test a new design investigation whilst looking into developing a broader client market, reaching out to families and young professionals that no longer have the desire to commute to work. To establish a “town centre” within Coburg, the forever developing Coburg landscape is the perfect location to kickstart new concepts of coworking in this mixed cultural community. A casual and formal working environment is the ideal approach for meeting local suburban office style, where it’s a great opportunity to investigate how co-working can respond to Covid-19 through sensitive design.

The second site is one of the entry levels of the Digital Drive development by Bates Smart. The design aims to develop a new community space for local residents who are looking for a convenient work setting and lifestyle in the CBD. The design aims to also support this new development by taking advantage of the exposure to visitors using the co-working space.

The Eastland site offers the ability for users to conveniently attend to their work needs whilst having the infrastructural support of the shopping precinct. A short-term design strategy is applied gaining customer awareness and knowledge of the Space&Co brand to attract increased membership as the possibility of a ‘new normal’ prevails. The space targeted the local community who need a space for quick use or a casual meeting. The location within the retail precinct supports extended operating hours.

Group II, Collaborating with COVID-19 [×]

This proposal is an adaptive system designed in response to the current COVID-19 pandemic. This model offers a new approach for workplace design which facilities networking opportunities within a COVID safe environment.

Our project aims to establish a model for co-working spaces which allows higher risk operations to continue during the pandemic such as running workshops, collaborations, team activities and group meetings by introducing specific spatial systems such as display boards, physical & non-physical barriers and ensuring specific times & capacity limits is allocated for exhibitions and meetings. This allows for networking opportunities for both the business and individuals whilst considering the wellbeing of all attendants.

This system is intended to allow co-working brand, Soho Works, to implement and insert the design across their varied locations, with high efficiency and operability. Our proposed system includes physical structures that are modularised and flexible as recommended by the National Health Commission of the PRC (2020) in their guideline to build temporary, hospital facilities under the impact of COVID-19 . In addition, this model can be implemented in other environments including remote and working from home conditions.

The design includes a series of visual cues and virtual applications that integrate the working model and culture of the brand and its members. The virtual application encourages the existing members to continue to participate and establish connections within the brand and the local culture. These proposed strategies encourage and promote a positive image for Soho Works to both the local communities and the user.

Overall, we are establishing a connection between the brand, its members, and local communities through designed visual cues, spatial arrangement, physical and no-physical barriers and virtual applications that reflect and promote the quality of Soho Works whilst protecting the health and wellbeing of its members.

Group III, ‘Second Home’ Co working Prototype [×]

This group project investigates the current operating model of the co-working brand Second Home in light of the significant challenges associated with COVID-19. Second Home aims to provide an environmentally appealing, socially integrative and aesthetically beautiful working environment tailored to the needs of innovative start-ups. Our proposal emphasises a biophilic approach where natural forms, ample daylight and plants are used to support people’s well-being.

Our approach features bold and vivid colours, organic shapes and geometric patterns demonstrated in three locations across Melbourne, Australia. Our vision was to look at the potential coworking situation before and after covid-19 and to bring the coworking brand Second Home’s culture and design concept into the localized suburban areas. We had three vacant sites to propose a series of operating models and we aimed to adapt each in response to the existing surroundings and to build a tighter network for local people in social and cultural context. We intended to create different modes of working for each site because of their varied nature.

The Eastland site in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs was designed as a pop-up, short term coworking space adding an experimental layer to an existing community centre. The site in Coburg, in Melbourne’s northern suburbs is situated within a close-knit community. This medium-term communal coworking space, provides casual spaces for meeting and workshops. The third site is located on Digital Drive, at Dockland in Melbourne’s CBD. We proposed a permanent coworking office to support the diverse user group and higher demand with increased density.