“Cross-pollination” is a buzzword in business today, as people, departments and businesses work together to conceive and achieve bigger and better ideas. Contemporary offices, particularly co-working spaces, are being designed to support and promote this cross-pollination. B:Hive Smales Farm in Auckland, New Zealand, is one award-winning example. Designed by BVN in association with Jasmax, the new office building is attracting individuals, start-ups and small- to medium-sized companies that want to be part of a buzzing, collaborative community.
In less than three decades, Smales Farm in Takapuna has been transformed from farmland to twentieth-century office park and is now on its way to twenty-first-century urban hub. B:Hive is the first step in creating this urban hub, with an engaging environment based on three tenets of development today: community, sustainability and technology. B:Hive is the largest purpose-built co-working facility in the Southern Hemisphere and was voted “Best Office in the World” at the 2019 World Architecture Festival.
An atrium and staircase at the heart of the building help foster the thriving, collaborative work community. Evocative of a theme park ride or waterslide, the orange staircase twists and turns between the levels and is bathed in natural light, inviting people to ascend or descend it. “The connecting stair is located close to the entry, encouraging people to walk through the building rather than the lift, and providing opportunities to engage, meet, observe and participate,” says BVN Principal James Grose.
With sustainability and workers’ wellbeing in mind, the skylight above the atrium brings natural light into all levels. Thermal chimneys in the façade draw air through the atrium to ventilate the interior, and a garden at the base of the staircase adds greenery and helps purify the air.
The stair and atrium connect the ground-floor meetings rooms and event space with the work areas that spread across fives levels. The interior edge of each level is wrapped with white MDF that accentuates it curvaceous form. Circling around and projecting into the atrium, these curves provide different vantage points and create organic spatial arrangements.
Moveable walls allow businesses with the flexibility to upsize, downsize and move desks as needed, and open-plan desks allow solo practitioners and small companies to join forces in sitting or collaborating together. Informal meeting and lounge areas throughout B:Hive provide various spaces to suit people’s diverse working needs.
The fluidity in the architecture of B:Hive reflects the fluidity needed in business today. Providing a vibrant workplace for start-ups, businesses and solo practitioners, B:Hive supports and encourages their ideas to pollinate and propagate.
Photography by John Gollings.