ChillOUT Hubs: Smart Open-Air Community Spaces
Street Furniture Australia

A modular product system that configures places to meet, work and recharge in the fresh air.

Demand for outdoor workspaces may rise due to COVID-19 as companies experiment with shedding the costs of a full-time office, while recognising the need for in-person collaboration from time-to-time in safe, comfortable, socially-distanced spaces.

Post-COVID-19 meeting outdoors has been shown to be safer than gathering inside – a Japanese study of 100 cases found the odds of catching coronavirus are nearly 20 times higher indoors than outdoors (Nishiura et al, 2020).

However outdoor spaces tend to be designed for social interactions, relaxing and enjoying nature. Thoughtful set-ups with a high level of amenity – not often seen in Sydney – are required to support more activities including productive outdoor work.

Georges River Council, University of New South Wales, University of Sydney and Street Furniture Australia in 2019 co-designed, produced and are now testing smart, open-air community spaces called ‘ChillOUT Hubs’ in Sydney. The Hubs provide seating and tables, shade, greenery, lighting, drinking fountains, public WiFi and device charging, and can be solar-powered. The modular design allows customising for different communities and sites.

In-built sensors provide Council with data on microclimate and use, for planning and maintenance. Data is monitored via the SAM Dashboard, developed by the universities.

ChillOUT Hubs are easy places for teams to meet or take a break from the home office. They promote a culture of a dynamic, connected mobile workforce for Sydney and support those who are financially disadvantaged with limited access to space or the internet at home as remote working evolves into a mainstream way of life.

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