By Claire Stewart 24 October 2017

Australia’s growing up. It’s finding that outdoor spaces – often elevated – are good for work, rest and play.

Few people would argue that whatever else Sydney might do wrong, it does weather and views spectacularly well compared with other Australian major cities. That’s why the scarcity of good rooftop space for work and play has been such a mystery to visitors and locals alike. 

Melbourne has had a rooftop cinema in the heart of the CBD for more than a decade, and there are cutting edge offices in South Yarra that have outdoor teppanyaki grills and beer taps. Meanwhile, Sydney is only now realising the benefits that open air spaces bring to offices and hospitality venues.   

The advantages of outdoor space as a place to work may be relatively untapped, but recognition of those advantages is growing. In 2015 Griffith University academic Libby Sander wrote an opinion piece for The Conversation website on the move towards better utilising open air areas in the workplace. In it, she observed that “since [urban sociologist] Ray Oldenburg officially coined the term ‘third place’ in 1989, our drive to find accessible, social, technologically enabled and welcoming places to work within the urban environment continues unabated.” 

A report released earlier this year from design firm Hassell found that while salary and benefits provided by a company are important to staff, the appeal of a good workplace culture and workplace facilities, including outdoor spaces, outranks salary as an attraction. 

So how best to create an office that is technologically enabled and conducive to work, while still providing that coveted “third space”? 

The advantages of outdoor space as a place to work may be relatively untapped.

Bloomberg’s key Sydney drawcard

Global news organisation Bloomberg snapped up its floors at 1 Bligh Street in part to take advantage of a huge outdoor space that adjoins its 150-seat indoor auditorium. 

In 2014, as the company settled into the space, then facilities manager Kylie Wayne named the roof terrace as the key drawcard for Bloomberg’s Sydney operation. “It’s like moving into your dream home,” Wayne said at the time. 

Combined with the auditorium, the space enables Bloomberg to host philanthropic, government and financial events. The outdoor area boosts the overall space, and the events held there makes it possible to raise the company’s profile in Australia. The outdoors also provides a quiet area for staff to work and think while getting their daily dose of vitamin D – and allows after hours yoga classes. 

Yoga, swimming and tennis

Flight Centre Travel Group’s new headquarters in Brisbane’s South Bank has its own rooftop bar, while the Aurora building in Adelaide’s business district has a rooftop lap pool and spa. Medibank has built outdoor tennis and basketball courts in Melbourne’s Docklands, because everyone knows that all work and no play is no good for anyone. 

Dexus Place has been quick to embrace Australia’s love of outdoor terraces, with its One Farrer location playing host to everything from yoga classes to rooftop events during Sydney’s Vivid festival of lights and music. During Vivid, a series of music, food and wine events at Dexus Place enable public access to the space with views out over nearby historic buildings in the heart of the city.

It’s like moving into your dream home. Kylie Wayne, Facilities Manager, Bloomberg

Extra-curricular options

Built in 1921, the Glenmore Hotel in the Rocks was for many years the go-to bar if you wanted a drinking vantage point that encompassed sweeping harbour views. 

But competition has slowly emerged to combat the Glenmore’s advantage. Around the corner from the Rocks, Circular Quay is both a top tourist destination and a meeting place for thousands of inner-city dwellers and office workers within the precinct. The redevelopment and expansion of the Gateway building’s dining offering has fortified the area’s reputation as the premier entertainment precinct. 

Gateway’s landscaped rooftop terrace will, when it opens in spring, join the Museum of Contemporary Art in providing rare elevated public spaces with uninterrupted views of the harbour from the Quay. 

The team from Sydney dining hot spots Salt Meats Cheese and Shuk in Bondi will open Popina rooftop bar and dining, a sister venue to its existing restaurant in Gateway. The historic Paragon Hotel also has plans to open a rooftop space in September, in time for the onset of summer festivities in Sydney. 

What better way to switch off the work email and unwind than in the open air with world-famous views?  

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