Premium co-working operator Hub Australia is the newest tenant at Orica House, Australia’s first skyscraper, designed by architecture and interior design practice Bates Smart.

Previously known as ICI House, the 19-storey iconic Melbourne skyscraper with a glazed curtain wall, which was built in 1958, set the precedent for modern vertical workplace design and continues to be a highly sought-after workplace due to its slim, flexible floorplates and classic design.

Bates Smart’s next generation workplace design for Hub Australia showcases the office tower’s flexibility to accommodate contemporary ways of working – even 60 years later.

Bates Smart director, Kellie Payne says, “The design of ICI House was human centred – it thought through how people would work in the future and provided the ideal environment; even today it would be surpassing modern wellbeing criteria. The design focused on integrating the ground plane into landscaped courtyards with water features. All parts of the floor have great access to light and views, it has an open, interconnecting stair off the lobby and artwork is seamlessly integrated throughout the architecture. Not to mention the original occupants had a staff cafe, gym and roof terrace.”

The design of Hub Australia’s new co-working space, known as Hub Parliament Station, reflects the seamless transition from base building design to fit-out with features such as a custom glazed brick referencing the unique waffle slab, which will be exposed as the ceiling finish.

Hub will occupy an area of 2,700 square metres across the top three floors and will accommodate 400-500 members. A café, integrated barista bar/hot desks, large serviced meeting rooms, private offices that can be open or screened, member’s kitchen and lounge, fitness centre, parent and wellness rooms and a media hub are some of the facilities being integrated into the office space.

Hub Australia CEO and founder, Brad Krauskopf, says, “We always look for unique buildings with a story and a history that our members can then weave into their own narrative. We were first drawn to Orica House because of its history, lobby and views and the floorplates are about as good as it gets. Side core and skinny long rectangle means there is not a bad seat in the house when it comes to natural light.

“Hub Australia’s mission is to create a home for businesses to grow. It’s all about staff attraction and retention. Therefore, design is critical to making the space work for our customers and our business. The design brief was about creating an experience that fits the building, the location and the Hub Australia brand.”

One of the Bates Smart architects who worked on ICI House, Struan Gilfillan commented how the design remains relevant for today: “ICI was a very clever building for the time. Curtain wall buildings using steel frames and cast-concrete were new to Melbourne and although common now, a separate wing for toilets and stairs was very unusual. It was ground breaking.”

Hub Parliament Station is expected to open in mid-2019. 

Image credits: Hub Parliament Station (Bates Smart) and ICI House (Tom Roe)