Modern workplace blends connectivity and community seamlessly

For the new Auckland headquarters of a leading global telecommunications provider, you would expect the purpose-designed interiors to be leading-edge – Vodafone InnoV8 at Smales Farm doesn’t disappoint

Vodafone InnoV8 has six levels with over 70 architecture, building, structure, gray, black
Vodafone InnoV8 has six levels with over 70 meeting rooms and can accommodate up to 2000 people on a given day. The global telecommunications company fit-out by Warren and Mahoney responds to Vodafone’s flexible working technology. The building-height atrium with giant curving screen and sculptural stairs and bridges provides for a larger-than-life welcome.

In an age of advanced technology and flexible work practices that allows people to work anywhere, the physical workplace has shifted from a passive place to operate in, to a dynamic and active tool.

The reinvented Vodafone InnoV8 building in Auckland is at the forefront in this regard – a fully enabled smart building at the heart of an innovative, sustainable and interactive precinct designed to foster business and community growth.

The modern headquarters blends connectivity and community seamlessly in a vertical campus-like environment that showcases the diverse, flexible nature of the business and its 2000-plus staff.

Vodafone’s regional head of property Murray Dobson says the building is all about the diversity of its workforce.

“We were looking to reflect diversity in age, culture and types of work, so that there’s space for everyone. This was a big part of the brief to Warren and Mahoney and is why we have several breakout spaces, large entertainment spaces, a prayer room, wellness areas and plenty of meeting spaces.

“We’ve invested in the mobility of our people, too. True to Vodafone’s global tel-co reputation, the up-to-the-minute technology prioritised in this renovation is here to facilitate our flexible working policies. It’s not tech for tech’s sake,” Dobson says.

“This included equipping the building with Internet of Things (IoT) sensors – making everyone’s smartphone their passport to gaining access to the building and their lockers, along with everything from booking smart rooms to ordering a coffee.”

The InnoV8 building reflects its name in terms of design as well as technological advancement. On entering, staff and guests are greeted with a giant screen in the ground-floor atrium in a Times Square-type display, the only one of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. This curved design is made up of 60 OLED flexible screens.

The atrium itself is a state-of-the-art events hall with a highly flexible configuration. There are two four-person meeting rooms on the non-secure side of the atrium while a lounge-style space is located next to the reception, defined by softer furniture and finishes. The remainder area has cafe-style furniture and doubles as an informal meeting space.

Warren and Mahoney’s project lead on the renovation Gabrielle Gatt says the Vodafone design is a bold reinvention of the existing building – also by Warren and Mahoney – that brings together all Auckland staff into one location, as one team.

“The atrium’s existing structural elements including the stair and the connecting bridges were retained but refurbished to make them both more accessible and welcoming,” says Gatt. “This included introducing a solid powder-coated steel balustrade to the stair and adding slatted powder coated steel balustrades on the bridges in front of the existing glass. The latter made the bridges feel safe while retaining openness, light and views across to activity on the other bridges and stair.”

For the new Vodafone InnoV8 building, timber was architecture, building, condominium, corporate headquarters, headquarters, interior design, lobby, metropolis, metropolitan area, mixed use, black, white
For the new Vodafone InnoV8 building, timber was installed to the underside of the reworked sky bridges, bringing warmth into the large atrium. Intelligent acoustic design was integrated into the connecting bridges, stair and ceiling.

The stair from the ground floor up to Level 1 was removed and a new stair located on each side of the building, inside the secure line. This meant the atrium could be open to the wider community.

In addition to the existing building entry from The Avenue, a second entry lobby was added to provide ease of access from Tahoroto Road. This gave a connection through the building and out into the adjacent Smales Farm precinct, adding to the sense of energy and buzz at ground floor level.

  The atrium edges were opened up on all levels with the breakout and café spaces located in these zones to vertically activate the atrium and provide views across the atrium to each side of the building. Bright playful colours were used at the edges to contrast the calmer more formal finishes of the atrium and bring a sense of liveliness into the floors.

  The Vodafone building is testament to Smales Farm’s objective of redefining the workplace. This fit-out has re-thought and reinvented ‘traditional’ to deliver a work environment called a Next Generation Neighbourhood. Spaces within the building are designed as destinations, again promoting movement and a variety of workspaces.

These range from highly private, to open and collaborative – allowing staff to choose the setting that best suits their needs. All floors, apart from the ground floor, have areas of open desking. These are supported by enclosed meeting rooms, quiet areas and collaboration zones. There is also the ‘Arena’, a state-of-the-art space with 180 projectors, which is easily configured as grouped spaces or as one huge venue where Vodafone staff and guests come together for events, such as a recent 5G showcase.

Changes in ceiling treatments denote a move to interior design, office, gray, black
Changes in ceiling treatments denote a move to quieter or more conversational/meeting-type spaces in the Vodafone InnoV8 fit-out.

Because the Innov8 building’s floorplates are large, different ceiling finish treatments are used to define different zones. For example, a change in ceiling finish defines a livelier or a quieter area.

As an individual base within this flexible work environment, lockers provide for personal items.

The variety of work settings is also supported by a variety of social gathering spaces and centralised support facilities, that ensure colleagues retain the ability to informally foster a sense of belonging.

“In a recent workplace experience survey, Vodafone participants reported high levels of belonging, friendships with colleagues, and feelings of being part of a group at work,” says Gatt.

And with work, there’s play. Game space is located on both sides of Level 2, including elements such as a digital climbing wall and table tennis.

The wellness facility on the ground floor includes a cardio room, parent’s room, faith/ reflection room and wellness room. A healthy lifestyle is also supported by a purpose-built, end of trip facility with showers and bike parking in the basement.

In aesthetic terms, the campus is designed as a playful environment, creating a series of spaces that reference the New Zealand landscape and celebrate its diversity. Underpinning the playful narrative is a clear and simple planning rationale, comprising two modules and the atrium.

“Module One references urban, gritty landscape while Module Two references the New Zealand suburbs, green and lush,” says Gatt. 

“Each has a strong, colourful reference to its concept, which becomes more playful as it moves close to the atrium.”

The atrium’s edges are the melting pot where the two modules collide, becoming a focal point of energy and place to go for employees to collaborate. The Vodafone brand is intended to sit within this framework and has greater presence in the public and external facing areas.

As well as addressing staff wellbeing by its various sporting or niche spaces, the sustainable nature of the fit-out has to be good for staff health as well as limiting the building’s running costs.

Key sustainable factors – beyond the green move of refurbishing and re-purposing an existing building – included new solar shading and glazing to the atrium to minimise heat gains; sensor zone control in open plan offices; installation of low energy LED luminaires; and building energy monitoring.

The giant atrium screen in operation at the interior design, lobby, retail, shopping mall, white
The giant atrium screen in operation at the Vodafone InnoV8 building by Warren and Mahoney.

Then there was consideration of sustainable certification when selecting materials, separate bins for recycling and waste on all floors at breakout and utility zones, and restricted water fittings. These are just some of the green moves in the now highly sophisticated yet humanistic Vodafone InnoV8 building.

The drive of the Vodafone InnoV8 project was to provide a pro-active, future-ready environment that allows the organisation to do and be their best.

“This meant creating a workplace with variety and choice to support effective working and high performance, at the same time as providing spaces for relaxation, reflection and reprieve.

“In a recent workplace experience survey, 73% of Vodafone participants said they feel like they can be themselves at work.”

For Vodafone’s HR director Antony Welton, the new building is about ensuring employees have what they need to be at their best.

“We believe physical environments play a big role in the general wellbeing of our people. We’re proud to have joined the Smales Farm community and feature our own digital workplace. We’re excited to demonstrate our technology and expertise in getting the business ready for a digital future,” Welton says.

Credit list

Vodafone InnoV8, Smales Farm
Project manager
Rebbeck Dunn Watters
Quantity Surveyor
Cuesko & Ryder Levett Bucknall
Electrical/hydraulic Engineer
Norman Disney & Young
Acoustic Engineer
Earcon Acoustics
Atrium flooring – stone from European Ceramics; corridor wooden flooring – Tasmanian Ash; staff kitchen flooring – Noraplan from Jacobsen; carpet, type one – Tretford, from Heritage Carpets; type two – Nocturnal 18 with feature tiles, Rainbow, Protégé and Landscape, from Godfrey Hirst
Ceiling panels
Atrium ceilings – Decortech and Autex; general ceilings – Armstrong Ultima from Forman
General area paint
Resene Alabaster
Workplace experience survey
Gabrielle Gatt and Dr Lixin Jiang, University of Auckland
Warren and Mahoney, project lead Gabrielle Gatt
NZ Strong
Mechanical engineer
Jackson Engineering Advisers
Fire Engineer
Holmes Fire
BGT Structures
Atrium stairs
Powdercoated steel from All Steel Projects
General lighting
Supplied by IBEX Lighting
Desks, lockers, lecterns, some meeting room furniture – Vidak; cafe seating in atrium, and general staff cafe furniture – Harrows; meeting room tables and chairs – Kada; audiovisual – AVT; exterior furniture – ByDezign; cafe, atrium big screen and reception – Retail Dimension

Story by: Charles Moxham

Photography by: Sam Hartnett and Shamanth Gounder

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