Vodafone NZ Ltd will take its whole Auckland corporate workforce into one building at Smales Farm and join the Smale family in creating a $200 million innovation precinct at the Takapuna office park.
The company & family signed their development & redevelopment agreements on Christmas Eve, and Vodafone told staff yesterday. The company had already announced on 23 December that it wouldn’t be renewing the lease on its Fanshawe St building when it expires in April 2017.
Vodafone’s lease on its Smales Farm building was also coming up for expiry in 2017, and the company evaluated over 30 options before settling on the North Shore development. The refurbishment alone will cost $44 million.
The intention is to create “a fully enabled smart building at the heart of a world-leading innovative, sustainable & interactive precinct designed to foster business & community”.
Vodafone chief executive Russell Stanners said: “This is an exciting opportunity to create our vision for the future – an iconic Vodafone community and a working environment that is truly digitally enabled – for our people & our customers.
“We set the bar in 2005 with the office at the Viaduct. We are poised to move that bar significantly higher with the design & technology behind our new Auckland home at Smales Farm in 2017.
“Vodafone’s Auckland team of 1800 people are currently spread across 4 locations, including Smales Farm & the Viaduct. This development enables us to bring our large & diverse workforce together under one roof and create a Vodafone-branded innovation precinct that will be the first of its kind in New Zealand.
“Over the next 18 months the existing Vodafone building at Smales Farm will be completely refurbished – inside & out – in order to create a unique, world-class workplace, offering employees the most technologically advanced environment to work, collaborate & enjoy.
“Within the building, we will have a variety of work environments: open plan, collaboration, libraries & private spaces, dedicated project spaces, and large communal spaces to bring people together.
“Everything in the building will be enabled by the smartphone, wireless enabled, voice & video aware and also incorporate virtual reality.
“This is about more than just the building. It’s about what we can do with our technology & our working practices to lead the rest of New Zealand and show them the future.”
Smales Farm general manager Daniel Henderson said the family business would develop “a bustling new hospitality zone with working greenhouses & a leafy laneway of boutique eateries where people can meet & eat”, alongside the Vodafone building.
He said this hospitality area had been conceptualised by Cheshire Architects – the group behind Britomart & the City Works Depot.
“The move reinforces the strength of our vision to transform Smales Farm into a thriving & diverse urban community – a home for future business in New Zealand. The area has been designed as a highly socialised space, and will see Smales Farm continue to evolve as a leading destination for working, lifestyle & community events in Auckland.”
Over one third of the existing 10.8ha Smales Farm footprint will be dedicated to the Vodafone-branded innovation precinct, modelled on similar urban communities internationally and intended to be a hub for large & small businesses, all powered by Vodafone.
The 6-floor 18,000m² Vodafone building at Smales Farm – with a huge central atrium and bridges linking its 2 arms – was originally built for Clear Communications NZ Ltd when it opened in 1991. Clear became part of TelstraClear Ltd a decade later, and Vodafone acquired TelstraClear in 2012.
Vodafone plans to “bring a touch of New York’s Times Square to Auckland” with one of the country’s largest digital billboards – 14.3m by 14m – on the building’s façade at the intersection of Northcote & Taharoto Rds.
Attribution: Joint release.