New premium, five-level office building is well set up to cater to changing client needs

Innovative in concept – as well as design – The B:HIVE building at Smales Farm offers complete space and rent flexibility for tenants in a modern wellness environment

Stairway to business heaven – the central feature interior design
Stairway to business heaven – the central feature of The B:HIVE building by architects BVN and Jasmax encourages a broad sense of connectivity and provides for chance or ‘bump’ meetings.

The world of business today is a fast-changing one, with companies having to be agile in response to market dictates and changing staff needs. A firm that requires a large office space one week, may well need a much smaller one seven days, or seven months on – and vice versa. Now there’s an Auckland office leasing option that has complete rental flexibility at the core of its business.

The B:HIVE offers innovation and ingenuity not only via its unique physical design and layout, but also through its flexibility for tenants, says Paul Gunn, Smales Farm CEO.

“Unlike traditional office leasing arrangements, The B:HIVE model facilitates increases or decreases in a business’ workspace so they only pay rent based on the exact size of their operation.

“The concept of office rent being based on the number of employees rather than a rate per m² is a completely new concept to business owners.”

The new premium 11,000m², five-level The B:HIVE building is well set up to cater to changing client needs and can easily accommodate businesses with anything from one up to 200 or more employees.

“At The B:HIVE, companies aren’t locked in to traditional leasing arrangements, so they avoid the substantial business interruption and capital expenditure usually associated with having to change premises,” says Gunn. “In addition, the fit-out, furniture, utilities, concierge and security services, and cleaning are all included in the rental – together with, of course, access to a full raft of up-to-the-minute business amenities.”

The B:HIVE’s environment feels and looks more like interior design, gray
The B:HIVE’s environment feels and looks more like a creative studio than a conventional building.

BVN and Jasmax were joint architects on the project and BVN CEO James Grose says The B:HIVE interior was foremost created with flexibility in mind.

“The building has been designed effectively as an empty box with an organic connecting volume. This enables complete flexibility on each floor plate.

“However, for the initial launch of The B:HIVE, the flexible zones are located around the central atrium, with moveable studios set on the perimeter.

“These are constructed with a demountable wall system, modified for this project with sliding doors to facilitate and maximise the free flow of space and air. All the furniture is moveable and interchangeable, too, enabling swift reformatting of zones – again furthering complete tenant flexibility.”

With its skylight comprised of a staggering 13 tonnes of glass, the light-filled central atrium is a major feature of The B:HIVE interior. And within this, the reception and sculptural staircase play key roles in the function and look of the space.

“The B:HIVE is conceived as a serviced community, an approach that is trending globally as workplaces become more integrated to lifestyle,” says Grose. “Therefore, the eye-catching reception is more like a concierge desk, ensuring that occupants and their guests experience a ‘hosted’ environment rather than a traditional serviced environment.

“It’s conceived that public and private events will occur regularly on the ground floor, with the open forum space and bar creating an after-hours social hub. Artworks and light installations are part of the curated environment, ensuring the building will be a vital and innovative place well into the evening.”

Despite being constructed of 34 tonnes of steel, the feature staircase achieves a light, playful appeal. However, it’s also about smart functionality.

“The idea of a connected and collaborative workplace community is to foster opportunities to engage, collaborate and innovate,” says Grose.

“Here, the elaborate stair is the connector of the independent spaces, and works in conjunction with the organic atrium to create multiple sightlines across the dynamic, bustling building. It also provides for ‘bump’ or chance meetings between occupants. In this sense alone, the dramatic stair energises as well as connects the space.”

The vibrant, spiral staircase in the atrium of white
The vibrant, spiral staircase in the atrium of The B:HIVE was constructed from 34 tonnes of steel and is a bespoke feature of the building. Landings are cantilevered off the atrium at each level, with additional complexity added because each level has a different footprint.

In contemporary office workplaces, wellness is increasingly implicit within the design – and The B:HIVE is also an exemplar in this field. After all, a healthy, wellness environment is another major drawcard for the office-leasing development. One of the ways the building reflects this in its innovative and highly efficient provision of healthy air.

“Natural ventilation is the primary air source for the building,” says the architect. “Fresh air enters from the lower levels and travels up through the atrium to be drawn out through thermal chimneys on the perimeter of the floors. The B:HIVE’s smart building technology adjusts the angles of the intake louvres to optimise air flow.

“Importantly, all the walls stop short of the ceiling so air travels throughout the building unimpeded,” the architect says.

The B:HIVE prioritises occupants’ health and wellbeing in other ways, too. Everything from the quality of the water and natural light, to the fully equipped kitchens on each floor, and its extensive provision for fitness and socialising. Plus, there are many open green spaces at Smales Farm as well as regular mindfulness, yoga and sporting activities.

“In terms of the look of the space, the approach has been to use materials in as close to an unadorned state as possible,” says Grose. “While this creates a fairly raw expression, at the same time it also provides a relatively quiet backdrop that brings people, features, furnishings and plants to the fore.”

Natural materials have been used as much as possible in tactile areas. And the interior’s dramatic organic forms are enhanced by the use of neutral  colours that don’t detract from their 3D presence.

“In effect, The B:HIVE is like a contemporary ecosystem with interdependent people and groups creating their own innovative business models in a dynamic wider atmosphere.”

Credit list

The B:HIVE, Smales Farm, Auckland
Electrical and hydraulic, vertical transportation, acoustic engineer
WSP Group
Fire engineer/fire protection
Holmes Fire
Civil engineer
Harrison Grierson
Leighs Construction
Structural steel
Mega Floor by Polished Concrete Ltd; carpet by Premium Flooring
Window treatments
SP Blinds
Vision System
Planters and plantings
Natural Habitats, Outside In
BVN and Jasmax
Geotechnical engineers
Tonkin & Taylor
Structural engineer
Buller George Turkington
Mechanical and ESD engineer
Quantity surveyor
White Associates
Circular staircase
D&H Steel Construction
Operable walls
installation:Angus Muir

Story by: Charles Moxham

Photography by: Ben Levy

31 May, 2018

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