Hassell Talks
Cultural chemistry on campus? It’s a strange beast of art and science

Cultural chemistry on campus? It’s a strange beast of art and science

April 27, 2022

What does bouncing Kraftwerk’s music off the surface of the moon have to do with the future of the university campus?

Universities are paying close attention to the way interstellar music-science-arts-technology-culture experience makers bluedotfestival engage audiences in cross-disciplinary learning. But how far do they need to go on campus? 

Turns out - they need to create a 'wow' factor deeply rooted in curiosity and learning. 

Who better to debate the future of the university campus than Hassell's co-lead of Education and Science, Julian Gitsham, together with the creators of bluedot, Professor Teresa Anderson and Professor Tim O’Brien of the University of Manchester's Jodrell Bank.

In this episode we hear how to look at the benefits of designing environments around problem solving – rather than disciplines – and how good design can create and facilitate inclusive, innovative, and problem solving campuses.

Cultural chemistry on campus web page
bluedot festival
First Light Pavilion
Jodrell Bank Observatory


SPECIAL EPISODE. MTalks presents: Illumination - data, knowledge and design

SPECIAL EPISODE. MTalks presents: Illumination - data, knowledge and design

March 16, 2022

To celebrate the start of Melbourne Design Week, we’re excited to share a podcast from Australia’s leading architecture commission MPavilion.

The MPavilion MTalks series brings some of Melbourne’s brightest and most creative minds together on the lands of the Eastern Kulin Nation, to debate, share ideas and be inspired. The episode you're about to hear was part of an 'Illuminating' event exploring the role of data, knowledge and design in amplifying access to the ideas moving around the city. 

Hear from the event creators, architects, artists, lighting and interaction designers exploring the role of design in illuminating and engaging people in public institutions.

With thanks to MPavilion for sharing this episode with us, as well as Bonnie Shaw at Place Intelligence for leading the event. Thanks also to FreeState's Su Lim, Hannah Fox at Rising, Tim Hunt at Arup, and Finding Infinity's, Ross Harding for taking part - and Steve Coster for hosting.


One big, unsafe bottleneck: Redesigning Emergency Departments for safety and flow

One big, unsafe bottleneck: Redesigning Emergency Departments for safety and flow

February 28, 2022

Even before Covid-19, many working in the health system would claim that Emergency Departments weren’t in the best of health.

The narrative in the media, and from clinicians themselves, paints a picture of overcrowded spaces, overwhelmed and unsafe for patients and staff, bottlenecked and stretched beyond capacity yet growing bigger – and bigger - but not necessarily smarter.  Creating healthcare systems that meet the very best expectations and conditions for staff and patients should be a focus for communities and operators, and this involves examining the models of healthsafety, privacy, the popularity of telehealth and the role of emerging technologies.

As part of a WomenIn_ panel event hosted by our Melbourne studio, we invited Mya Cubitt, Emergency Physician at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, Stefano Scalzo, from the Victorian Health Building Authority, as well as Health, Infrastructure and Planning Consultant Brian Stevenson, to join Hassell's Health sector leader Leanne Guy and Managing Director Steve Coster to discuss the ever changing needs of Emergency Departments.

Closer, together: can Ireland warm to an urban future?

Closer, together: can Ireland warm to an urban future?

February 10, 2022

Cities around the world are committing themselves to creating compact, amenity-rich neighbourhoods as they tackle the challenges of climate change, urban sprawl and wellbeing.

Ireland’s cities, with their history, natural amenities and passionate residents seem more ready-made than most to embrace an agenda of compact growth. But despite national planning frameworks in place, local governments, private developers and stakeholders are encountering ongoing challenges of their own in bringing ​15-minute cities” to fruition.

“If we’re going to get people to accept the idea that it’s good to live in a smaller home in the city centre, we have to make sure that the experience outside the front door of their smaller home is really wonderful,” explains City of Dublin Architect, Ali Grehan.

In this episode of Hassell Talks, Senior Researcher Camilla Siggaard Andersen speaks to the people behind the push for compact, urban growth in Ireland: the property developers, city architects, academics and researchers, who want to move beyond a common assumption that compact growth can only come from sacrifice. 

As Hassell’s Close to Home” report shows, 15-minute cities provide opportunities for more convenient living, more equitable communities and more sustainable development, saving resources and reducing emissions because of higher density. 

Could this be a new era of urbanism, for Ireland?

Our thanks to Brian MoranAli GrehanPat Farrell and Niamh Moore Cherry for sharing their insights with us.

This episode was produced by Camilla Siggaard Andersen and Prue Vincent with support from One Fine Play.

Workplaces for the nuanced, future user

Workplaces for the nuanced, future user

September 30, 2021

There's no simple answer to the workplace-during-a-pandemic conundrum, but there are many ways that organisations can fine-tune their workplaces to appeal to the inevitably changed habits and expectations of their people while meeting their own objectives.

From following the data and ensuring your business goals are rock-solid to ongoing testing and refining while nailing the office basics, our 2021 Workplace Futures Survey of 2300 office workers unearthed some important insights for the evolution of the workplace.

In this episode of Hassell Talks, Principal Catherine van der Heide and Senior Researcher Daniel Davis explore the survey findings and what they mean. They also speak with people in the business of creating workplaces for the future, Letitia Hope from ISPT and ARUP's Cameron McIntosh.

Burnt Out? Mental health in design

Burnt Out? Mental health in design

September 9, 2021

Mental health is making headlines - including in the architecture and design industry as the cumulative effects of living and working through a second year of the global Covid-19 pandemic start to become known.

So how can organisations, the industry, and individuals, take advantage of this moment to establish change and in doing so, protect the longevity and diversity of the design industry into the future?

In this special episode of Hassell Talks to recognise RUOK Day and World Mental Health Day we invited Parlour co-founder, Researcher and Professor of Architecture at Monash University Naomi Stead to share some of the early observations coming out of a survey of 2300 industry professionals into wellbeing in architecture.

Joining Naomi is landscape architect, Place Intelligence co-founder and Human Potential Coach Bonnie Shaw, who explains how her own extreme experience with stress and pursuit of mental wellbeing marries data, endocrinology, neuroscience and behavioural psychology to support change, and community resilience.

Together with Managing Director Steve Coster they explore opportunities to promote an open help-seeking culture, foster wellbeing and create real, positive change around mental health for the benefit of individuals, organisations, clients – and ultimately the communities and end users of design.

"Designers are motivated by a desire to make the world a better place, and so they keep designing until they get to the best possible outcome beyond the point where they're really pushing their own personal well-being."
- Naomi Stead

"When you're working in really big, challenging adaptive problems, it puts so much pressure on people. And being able to do that work in a context where it's okay to talk about how you might be struggling or when you might be having problems, I think, is the only way we get through it." 
- Bonnie Shaw

  • Hassell is a proud partner of mental health advocacy organisation, PukaUp. Find out more about the work PukaUp is doing to eliminate suicide.

References and further resources

The British Architects Mental Wellbeing Forum Toolkit
The Australian Architects Mental Wellbeing Forum Toolkit

Literature review on Architects and Mental Health commissioned by the NSWARB

Monash University's Wellbeing in Architecture survey

Bonnie Shaw: 'Making good decisions' - Dumbo Feather
Founder of Stress Theory, Hans Selye

A shot in the arm: How COVID-19 transformed telehealth and hospital design

A shot in the arm: How COVID-19 transformed telehealth and hospital design

June 18, 2021

Finding it both necessary and convenient, patients and clinicians across Australia embraced the change brought about by COVID-19 and took to telehealth in huge numbers – jumping from one million service events in March 2020 to six million a month later in April.

Healthcare is traditionally an area that can be slow to change, so this leap in uptake was a novel event in itself.

Under pandemic restrictions, clinicians didn’t have much of a choice. But the switch to telehealth wasn’t as simple as just turning on a computer or making a call, particularly in hospital settings where space and infrastructure are hard to come by.

We wanted to find out what the telehealth experiences of healthcare workers in Australian hospitals was like during 2020, and the implications for the spaces we design.

In collaboration with The University of Queensland’s Centre for Online Health, we discovered that hospital infrastructure in Australia is ill-equipped to accommodate the spaces needed for successful delivery of telehealth services during a pandemic. And with telehealth here to stay, that means these spaces are also left wanting in a future that is almost certain to include a greater mix of both in-person and telehealth consultations.

For episode 3 in season 2 of Hassell Talks, Senior Researcher Michaela Sheahan looks at what this means for the way new hospitals are designed or existing hospitals are reconfigured – and the almost once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rethink the way healthcare is offered. She’s joined by Hassell Principal Leanne Guy as well as Karen Lucas, Senior Telehealth Coordinator for Metro South Hospital and Health Service and Dr Emma Thomas, Research Fellow at the Centre for Health Services Research, The University of Queensland.

Connection, trust and safety: co-working and COVID-19

Connection, trust and safety: co-working and COVID-19

May 28, 2021

At the heart of any co-working environment is the idea that it can do much more than provide a hotspot and a hot coffee.

The best ones ask: Can we build a great like-minded community?

In the COVID-19 context, the best co-working spaces then ask whether they can solve some of the challenges thrown up by the pandemic to design for safety and trust in a physical environment.

And right now? They’re asking how the design of their spaces helps people to connect – and reconnect. To go a step further and make these connections high value, while supporting wellness and resilience.

“You need a place where you can say 'Oh my gosh! That's so good!' You need that energy.”

Industry trailblazer, CEO and Founder of The Great Room Jaelle Ang, calls it the quest for a ‘modern agora’.

“If we need to move at a fast pace, we need to be in a learning environment,” she observes. “And the office needs to allow you to do that.”

Host and Senior Design Strategist Pamela Jouwena joined Jaelle Ang at the Great Room, Raffles for a conversation exploring the evolution of coworking to meaningfully connect the virtual and physical experiences – and how it’s gone beyond simply providing flexibility to being places of resilience that people can trust, where they can create community and focus on holistic wellness. At a time when it’s needed most.

This episode of HassellTalks was produced by Prue Vincent and Slavica Habjanovic.

How big data can challenge - and validate - the design process

How big data can challenge - and validate - the design process

March 16, 2021

We're back for Season Two of Hassell Talks - thanks for joining us!

Once practically unthinkable, silent city centres were a feature of 2020. And to attract people back as the COVID-19 recovery picks up pace across the globe, the challenge lies in truly understanding how and why spaces work.

The solution might be staring us – city shapers and designers – in the face. Big Data.

What exactly can big data reveal to city shapers and designers that they previously never had access to? What does it tell us about human behaviour in urban places and the opportunities to create better outcomes for stakeholders? And how does it help designers prove their effectiveness of their designs?

With Big Data as a basis, designers and clients can have more informed and meaningful conversations to help generate socially, culturally and economically valuable outcomes.

Hassell's Gerard Corcoran teams up with Norion Ubechel from Place Intelligence to dig into the role of Big Data and how it can challenge and validate the design process.

This episode of Hassell Talks was produced by Prue Vincent and Jessica van Hecke

The role of data in workplace design in the era of COVID19

The role of data in workplace design in the era of COVID19

December 15, 2020

Whether you’re a CEO, a property manager or a workplace designer, the office has been the headline conversation of 2020. How many will go back? What will it look like? How will workplace culture change?

Whatever line of inquiry you follow, we know a mix of qualitative and quantitative insights will give us the greatest handle on what’s happening in a workplace.

Evodia Alaterou, our design strategy lead joins Alex Birch, co-founder and CEO of tech start-up XY Sense to discuss what they’ve learned gathering data from four workplace and employee experience leaders in Australia.

And we get to hear directly from people inside those businesses too: Cameron McIntosh from Arup, Madeline Mios from Culture Amp, Mark Comer from Cbus and Adam Fitzhenry from Sunsuper all talk about the challenges their organisations faced – and how those made them re-think the tools they use to understand and measure their workplace performance and their culture.

It’s a topic we’ve been examining closely, in everything from our Workplace Beyond 2020 survey to one of our latest podcasts – a ‘Creative Conversation’ on the future of corporate campuses.

Hassell Talks is brought to you by international design firm Hassell. 

Naturalistic Planting | Part 3: The value - and significance - of emotional connections to nature in cities

Naturalistic Planting | Part 3: The value - and significance - of emotional connections to nature in cities

November 19, 2020

Plants in our cities are important for many reasons, like supporting urban cooling and biodiversity as well as human wellbeing and health.

But they also impact on the economies of our cities. Green cities are just as attractive to developers and investors as those who just want to stop and smell the roses.

Parts 1 and 2 looked at why we value wild, natural planting in our cities as well as the importance of scale, ecology and sustainability when creating landscapes that appear natural and organic. 

In part 3, Jon Hazelwood joins writer, garden designer and TV presenter Michael McCoy as well as Professor Nigel Dunnett, responsible for some of the UK’s most spectacular planted environments to explore the significance of our emotional connections to nature in cities. 

Hassell Talks is produced by international design studio, Hassell

Naturalistic Planting | Part 2: Is ‘native’ the only answer to the biodiversity question?

Naturalistic Planting | Part 2: Is ‘native’ the only answer to the biodiversity question?

October 30, 2020

The debate around native or exotic urban planting can sometimes be a thorny one, culturally, environmentally and emotionally and over the longer term, climate change brings the role of planting and landscape into sharp focus as we consider the future health of our cities.

Wholly exotic landscapes bring with them issues of culture, context and invasive issues. Perhaps the answer is somewhere in the middle.

Carefully controlled “wild” environments like small pocket parks or larger spaces like New York's famous High Line in are vastly different, but non-native plants play a crucial role alongside native species. In this way designers are ensuring biodiversity, eco-systems and cultural aspects are all catered and cared for.

Jon Hazelwood joins Professor James Hitchmough and internationally acclaimed garden designer Piet Oudolf to propose a different, less binary way of thinking about natives and non-natives. Together they look at why carefully considered planting needs to be seen at scale, and for people, ecology and wildlife.

Naturalistic Planting | Part 1: What’s the value of nature in the city anyway?

Naturalistic Planting | Part 1: What’s the value of nature in the city anyway?

October 14, 2020

It might be hard to measure, but we know interacting with nature has an impact on our emotions – and that’s never been more apparent in cities during lockdown. But does the kind of planting we encounter in urban environments matter? Are planned and cultivated spaces what we need, or could we be craving ‘wilder’, less predictable landscapes that fully immerse us in nature?

In Part 1 of a mini-series investigating naturalistic planting in our urban environments, Jon Hazelwood joins Claudia West – director of Phyto studio and co-author of Planting in a Post-Wild World – and Robert Hammond, co-founder and CEO of The High Line, about planting the seeds for a deeper, more fulfilling relationship with nature, whatever the space, scale or budget.

Hassell Talks is brought to you by international design studio, Hassell.

A better fit: tailoring design for a sustainable future

A better fit: tailoring design for a sustainable future

September 22, 2020

Beyond the impeccable dress sense, designers working in fashion and city-making have a lot in common - both sectors can have indisputable impacts on the world - on a very large scale.

Right now they also have an opportunity to think more deeply about the impact of their work on people, places and our collective future.

While fashion is often fast and seasonal and architectural design is often a longer process, both are responsible for dictating trends and aspirations – and both can generate significant amounts of waste.

Interplanetary architect Xavier de Kestelier, got together with Christopher Raeburn, Creative Director at Timberland and sustainable fashion brand RÆBURN, to talk about whether the similarities in supply chain and more collaboration between the industries could lead to greater sustainability overall. 

Re-emerge resilient: what can trends tell us about the future for cities, spaces and designers

Re-emerge resilient: what can trends tell us about the future for cities, spaces and designers

August 11, 2020

We don’t know exactly what our lives, work and communities will look like post COVID-19. But one thing we’re sure of is that some of the trends we saw developing over the past few years have only accelerated since the global pandemic took hold.

They’re trends that are changing how we reimagine or repurpose spaces, think about mobility, and connect with each other and our communities – not to mention increase the appeal of a slowed-down culture. These shifts all have implications for the way people are interacting with places – and as designers this is a time to listen and partner with clients and communities to help us all re-emerge resilient. For this episode of our podcast, we’re joined by our good friend and collaborator David Grant of Brickfields Consulting. As consumer research experts, David and his team have been delving deeper into these trends, giving our clients and designers extra insights into the people who will use the places we create. David joins Hassell Principals Angus Bruce, Liz Westgarth, Chong Wang and Richard Mullane to discuss the impact and opportunities for cities from San Francisco to Sydney and Shanghai to London.

Autonomy, mastery and meaning: What the next generation of design talent wants

Autonomy, mastery and meaning: What the next generation of design talent wants

July 21, 2020

Can design firms be truly future-focused if they’re not appealing to the next generation? What will attract the best designers of the future? How do firms give talent the right platforms to make a positive difference?

We are obsessed with how design can make a difference in the future. We asked Jan Owen AM, Co Chair / Convenor of Learning Creates Australia, and former CEO of Foundation for Young Australians, and Hassell's Steve Coster to uncover what makes tomorrow’s design leaders tick, what they’re looking for – and how to unleash their world-changing potential.

Hassell Talks is produced by international design practice, Hassell. 

The architectural scientist and the scientific architect

The architectural scientist and the scientific architect

June 16, 2020

Stepping carefully up to the crater’s edge, white boots kicking up swirls of red dust, the figure lowers themselves carefully down to sit on an ancient boulder - and pulls out an A3 sketchpad.

The stranger surveys the Martian landscape, interrogates the form and flowing expanse in front of them and starts to sketch out a narrative created over millions of years. They fill their empty page with illustrations telling the story of the planet and its potential for life.

What is this space-traveller, are….what, exactly? A scientist? An artist? Or both?

Sanjeev Gupta, professor of Earth Science at Imperial College London and part of the Mars Curiosity rover mission currently exploring Gale Crater for NASA joins interplanetary architect Xavier de Kestelier to examine the necessity of blurred boundaries between science and architecture, if humans are to successfully live on the Red Planet.

Hassell Talks is produced and brought to you by international design practice, Hassell.

What can emergencies teach us about design?

What can emergencies teach us about design?

April 6, 2020

Events like COVID-19, wildfires and hurricanes teach us valuable lessons about the way people – and the public places built for them – respond and recover post disaster.

If they’re not confined to their homes, communities are separated – scattering to places for medical attention, shelter or to the comfort of community. They could find themselves anywhere from a sports stadium to a community hall - to a beach.

Greg Kochanowski, Studio Director at Rios Clementi Hale, and climate & science reporter Molly Peterson join Hassell's Richard Mullane in this podcast to discuss how resilience – the ability for an environment to recover – isn’t developed in the aftermath of a disaster.

The foundations are built way before, so that when emergencies do come, people are strong enough to get through them. It’s less about what’s built and more about what’s designed for – a different kind of design thinking that should be part of the ‘new normal’.

Student life: Why the campus is still critical to the university experience

Student life: Why the campus is still critical to the university experience

December 23, 2019

Universities want to show their students and academics a really good time - the better the experience, the more appealing it is to stay a while for study, work and play.

The multi-million dollar marketing campaigns may draw in the curious crowds, but what makes them stick around? Researcher Michaela Sheahan hosted a panel conversation in our Brisbane studio with collaborators and clients to hear what clients and Universities see happening, and what they believe is necessary in the experience of students on campus.

Humanitarian Architecture: how powerful design can help change the world

Humanitarian Architecture: how powerful design can help change the world

December 11, 2019

From a powerful example of design’s crucial role of healing in post-genocide Rwanda to a city’s solution to homelessness, this episode of HassellTalks examines how deploying, measuring and demonstrating the value of design is critically important to addressing the most pressing humanitarian challenges of our time.

Designers have “freaking superhero” skills, says architect Bryan Bell of the Public Interest Design Movement, and South Carolina’s Design Corps.

They rapidly visualise multiple solutions and design assets, creating countless – limitless – ideas in a single day. But they’re not so great at measuring and articulating that value - meaning they sometimes get sidelined. With our world facing the complex challenges of climate, inequality, food, water and political insecurity: a superhero is what the world needs right now.

As part of Humanitarian Architecture Week we recorded a panel conversation in our Melbourne studio between Dr Esther Charlesworth from Architects Without Frontiers, Bryan Bell from Design Corps and Hassell Principal Mark Loughnan.

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