The first appointed principal in the Hassell Strategy team, Evodia Alaterou, admits to not being the strongest designer at the beginning of her career, but fell in love with the industry.
“Even as a student I realised early on that I wasn’t a superstar designer. I was always greatly interested in the people who were going to occupy the spaces, and always asking questions like ‘what do these people do? What kind of lives do they live? How will the space enhance their lives?’ So, I went on a mission to figure out where I could fit into the architecture sphere,” says Alaterou.
Having completed a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Pretoria, Evodia discovered a Masters in Environmental Psychology at the University of Surrey which she says was her ‘aha’ moment.
“Architecture in itself is beautiful because it’s about form and about creating something, but without people to bring it to life, it’s just a beautiful sculpture. Environmental Psychology allowed me to draw what’s important out of people, as well as themes from conversations, and how to analyse the things people say. It was the analysis toolbox that I needed to apply to architecture,” she says.
Now with over 16 years’ experience in design strategy, Evodia leads a growing HASSELL team of talented and diverse strategic thinkers. The team puts people at the centre of the strategies they develop, using data and analytics to underpin their work. Evodia has been involved in developing workplace strategies for AGL Melbourne and Sydney, Adelaide Festival Centre, and Nike Shanghai.
With a diverse portfolio of projects across the globe, Evodia says that the recent work with Arup to develop their new workplace strategy was exciting as it was a true collaboration between HASSELL and Arup from beginning to end.
“We started working with Arup six years ago, and they were a different business back then. They wanted to be more than an engineering firm, they wanted to be trusted advisors, and much more visible in their local communities. We worked in partnership to develop their new guidelines and workplace strategy, and it’s fantastic to hear the impact these changes have had on attendance numbers, visitor numbers, and overall employee wellbeing. Our aim is to bring strategy to life through design, and it’s exciting to see that actually happen in project like this,” says Alaterou.
Hassell managing director Steve Coster says, “Whether it’s a large-scale project or a modest space, Evodia has led the team to always seek out what our clients really need, challenge their thinking, and deliver exceptional strategies. We’re looking forward to seeing what else Evodia will achieve in this new role.”
“If I was to give advice to my younger self I would say: Nobody knows all the answers. I think if you pretend to always know, you’ll never expand your knowledge. Be confident with what you know but be ok with not knowing everything. That gives you the permission to be curious, to go and learn more, and talk to others, because ultimately things work better when done together,” Alaterou says.