Working-life priorities have shifted. Our tolerance for characterless cubicles and work-only office spaces has grown thin. We prefer a balance of function, beauty and unique amenities. This is where The Commons sits – it offers co-working spaces for businesses, startups and solo freelancers looking for a more contemporary take on a productive workplace.

“The original concept for The Commons was work and ‘wow’ moments,” says Emily Minchin, senior interior designer at Foolscap Studio, the team behind the new location for The Commons, set to open in the coming months. “It’s the balance of having these workspaces that function so people can actually work in [them], but then also having these breakaway spaces where people can escape.”

The new York Street space in Sydney’s CBD is a “magnificent” heritage building. “The developer, Milligan, has spent a lot of money holding it … and adaptively reusing it because when these buildings were built, co-working didn’t exist,” says Winteridge. “The way we work now is very different to what the original purpose for that building was, and so [the question was] how do we make it relevant.”

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Foolscap has added modern touches across the York Street space. The foyer has been split open with two mezzanine levels (“A place to have a coffee or [use as] a breakout environment,” says Winteridge) that play up the heritage red brick and easy street access. Private working spaces have been given “library-like” acoustic treatment for those buckle-down moments. Communal spaces are rich with colours and textures that recall the heritage building itself, while the working spaces are intentionally neutral. A light-filled, courtyard-like kitchen is a central gathering space inspired by markets and public houses.

For Winteridge it’s all about those breakout spaces and their wow moments. “A cool space we’ve introduced that they don’t have at any other Commons is the music room,” she says. It’ll be kitted out with guitars and a drum kit that members are free to use.

As with the other beautiful, well-appointed Commons spaces, York Street has benefits that can’t be found at home or in a traditional office. And like all the best design, it’s fundamentally human-led.

“As interior designers, we have empathy and understand the way humans use the space,” says Winteridge. “We think about it from a thermal perspective, from an acoustic perspective, from a lighting perspective – levels of light in order to do task work versus ambient lighting that makes it feel like a hotel or a hospitality environment.”

The music rooms, acoustically treated working spaces and market kitchens are all appealing modern interpretations of the classic office. But there’s one aspect that Winteridge thinks is particularly important for those who choose to work at The Commons – especially the new York Street office. “I think having a beautiful space to work brings pride,” she says. “It’s that idea of, ‘I'm really proud to bring someone into this space and call it my own.’ And I think even if you’re a really small business, you can have that within The Commons.”

The Commons’ new co-working space at 32 York Street, Sydney, opens in August.