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Cornering the creative market: Hayball's Tom Jordan on Melbourne's new office dynamic

Urban Melbourne has on numerous occasions over the course of the last year highlighted the groundswell of office-based development aimed squarely at Melbourne's city fringe markets.

The municipalities of Yarra and Port Phillip have been the primary beneficiaries of this discernible shift in office activity. Only last month Urban Melbourne highlighted the growing importance of fringe suburbs such as Richmond, Cremorne, South Melbourne and Collingwood in Melbourne's grander office-driven boom. 

What though, are the driving forces that are underpinning this new office dynamic?

A leader in the field is Southbank-based design practice Hayball, who are currently working with a trio of developers in order to realise office projects across Collingwood, South Melbourne and Cremorne. Hayball's Managing Director Tom Jordan recently spoke to Urban Melbourne, providing insight on the hot topic that is city fringe office development.

Hayball's trio of current inner-city office projects

Behind the strengthening of Melbourne's city fringe office markets is the emerging dichotomy between the established CBD/Docklands 'corporate' tenant office space and emerging 'creative' tenants which are actively seeking to reject the norm.

Tom Jordan explains that these creative, dynamic businesses are looking to commit to collaborative hot spots such as Cremorne, rather than opting for more corporate CBD surrounds. It is a matter of perception, where these typically smaller businesses are taking a holistic approach toward their office requirements which include the ability to provide highly customised workspaces.

From Hayball's perspective, the above has manifested itself by way of three separate projects.

Alpha 14 Property Group is pursuing GCQ, a 9,000sqm A-grade quality development on the corner of Collingwood's Gipps and Cromwell Streets. Valued at $28 million and due to commence construction during February 2018, the design is based upon a collaborative approach with flexible office spaces offered.

Also on Hayball's agenda is 134 Moray Street, South Melbourne. The distinctively angular building consists of premium grade office space; some of which will be absorbed by developer SMA Projects.

Rounding out the trio is Caydon Property's $35 million Harcourt Parade project in Cremorne. It too was "conceived as a place to innovate, co-create, collaborate and showcase."

Interior perspectives of Harcourt Parade

Beyond location and perception, Tom Jordan explains the offices themselves in these city fringe markets are generally quite different to larger corporate-based occupancies, amplifying certain aspects of design. Gone are partitions and plaster for instance, with earthier, open spaces the order of the day in these customised commercial designs.

Demonstrated above and below is Hayball's interior spaces for Cremorne and Collingwood. They are reflective of the want of tenants to have their staff mobile, in that fit-outs are high flexible and specifically tailored to be welcoming.

Tom Jordan notes that current design imperatives which both cognisant developers and businesses are requesting include:

  • End of use facilities such as bike storage, showers etc.
  • Spaces that promote health and wellbeing, such as yoga rooms, communal gyms and flexible spaces for activities
  • Social spaces such lobbies and rooftop terraces
  • Raw finishes with sustainable and natural materials

This new wave of city fringe commercial office buildings are beginning to reflect the multi-residential market in that communal facilities have taken on a greater importance. Whether it be rooftop gardens, breakout areas of activated foyers which Tom Jordan refers to as activated 'foyer plus' spaces, it is very much reflective of the smaller and specialised mindset of many businesses in the marketplace.

Alpha14’s upcoming GCQ office development

As for future trends, Tom Jordan looks toward Fishermans Bend with great interest post the recast vision for the urban renewal zone which was released last month.

Whereas the majority of projects appearing in Cremorne, Collingwood and the like are purely commercial pursuits owing to zoning, Tom Jordan sees Fishermans Bend being positioned from the outset as a genuine mixed-use pursuit. To that end, there will be greater scope for true mixed-use programmes across a greater number of buildings.

As for now Hayball continues to actively expand their presence in the burgeoning city fringe office market, with Tom Jordan confirming that the practice is working on additional projects in the field.

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