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Open-Plan Designs Take Working from Home to a New Level

Open-Plan Designs Take Working from Home to a New Level

Clicke here to read the original article by Sandy Smith for Domain, 23 August 2016.

Growth in the numbers of stay at home workers is pushing developers, designers and architects to think more creatively about how to offer the best of both worlds – work and home – in one space. 

Architect Adrian Light knows a thing or two about creating the perfect live-work space. He lives with his family in a converted vinegar factory above his architecture practice in Northcote, Melbourne. The four storey building offers him seven levels of open plan living with his family on the upper levels and work space below for his architecture company, One20 Architects.
If he is working but is needed at home he simply goes upstairs, aided by the lack of internal doors — there are only five in the entire building, two to the children’s bedrooms and three bathrooms. If he needs a break from work he can go to one of the many restaurants, cafés and bars located in the neighbourhood.
Light says he enjoys the flexibility that open-plan living and working from home offers him.


“The main advantages of open plan living are the space saving and the versatility it offers,” says Light.

“Rooms can have multiple uses and there is a wonderful interconnectivity between the volumes. You really get a sense of the space and volume when everything is connected. On a small site there is a great advantage in eliminating corridors and maximising floor area.”

Light is one of a growing number of stay at home workers, pushing developers, designers and architects to think more creatively about how to offer the best of both worlds – work and home – in one space.

He says he has found there is an increasing demand for residential design to include home working spaces.

“More people are working from home due to the flexibility we now have in our working lives,” says Light.

“Technology certainly makes it easier. Better technology means less commuting.”

In Melbourne’s Docklands, a new $150 million development of industrial style loft apartments offers live-work space for buyers who want to work from home or live close to their employers.

The Elm & Stone development by MAB Corporation and DKO Architecture offers buyers the choice of one or two bedroom lofts; one, two or three bedroom apartments; or three-level townhouses.

“Elm & Stone is one of the first genuine loft developments to be built in Melbourne and definitely a first for Docklands,” says David Allt-Graham, general manager of residential at MAB.

“We have been working in the Docklands for nearly 20 years and with major Australian businesses like NAB, Medibank and the ANZ relocating to the precinct, we are seeing a trend of younger buyers seeking quality, contemporary, yet affordable accommodation options nearby,” says Allt-Graham.

Recent Melbourne City Council data reveals the number of jobs in the municipality has increased by 33 per cent in the past decade, with employment in the Docklands growing by 39 per cent over the last two years.

“Elm & Stone caters to this demographic by offering spacious and affordable loft-living in the heart of the Docklands,” he says.

As well as 4.5 metre high floor to ceiling windows which overlook the water and the Melbourne Eye, the apartments utilise a split level to create a flexible mezzanine space.

“You can do anything with the mezzanine level,” says Allt-Graham.

“It can be a guest bedroom, a studio, it could be where you sleep while the baby is in the quiet bedroom next door. We were really excited about the flexibility that brings. The mezzanine to us is a really great home-work space.”

Residential design is changing to cater for the demands of people who work from home, agrees Bianca Hung, senior associate at Hayball, one of Australia’s largest practices specialising in architecture, interior design and urban planning.

“We’ve seen plenty of apartment stock on the market which has flexible living spaces which the buyer can choose to use how they wish with many opting to for a home office,” says Hung.

Hung says Hayball has noticed that “buyers prefer a generously sized one bedroom, plus a dedicated study space.”

“The study will typically sit behind the bedroom, so it is open to the rest of the living space, however also has an element of privacy tucked away, as well as plenty of storage,” she says.

“We are finding many people who work from home are preferring this set up instead of converting a second bedroom into a study.”

The needs of stay at home workers are also being met outside of their own homes, she adds.

“Many residential developments are also providing communal spaces such as a lounge or library, and retail spaces on the ground floor such as cafés, so that small businesses based from home can host meetings nearby.”