The University of Sunshine Coast was launching its brand new Moreton Bay campus in February 2020. As the catalyst tenant in The Mill innovation precinct, USC wanted to ensure their new campus established a connection with the wider community, ensure its relevance for current and future students and deliver a thriving student, employee and community experience from day one.
USC wanted to guarantee the Moreton Bay campus would be an alive and welcoming precinct for students, staff and the community. The only problem though, is that it would be in the middle of a paddock under construction for the next five years. They partnered with FreeState to help shape the campus experience as an attractive place that students are excited to go to, and staff look forward to teaching at.
Leading with an experience vision not only aligned and gave purpose to all of the experience design concepts, but also went on to inform the landscape masterplan to ensure it was embedded with plenty of micro, human-scale moments. The experience framework behind the experience concepts makes sure the new campus is a genuine community asset and a catalyst for new experiences in the region.
Working with urban arts specialists, UAP, we conceptualised a series of real-world applications to bring the vision to life. When students arrive, they’re greeted with experience neighbourhoods that contain tailored activity-based modules that are customisable based on their needs and provides a platform for social connection, outdoor learning, gathering and collaborating.
Sector Customer experience
Location Sydney, Australia
As a heritage Australian brand that encompasses finance, insurance, and banking, Suncorp wanted to prove to their customers that they could handle all their financial needs, and genuinely help people become financially fit. At the time, Suncorp were going through a rebrand and expanding into New South Wales – two ambitious projects with huge potential for growth and change.
From the outset we saw an opportunity to do something bold, clever and unexpected. Which lead us to propose, design and eventually build a remarkable flagship store in the heart of Sydney’s CBD that was lightyears away from the staid world of finance.
It included creating and implementing an experience vision for the project along with a set of guidelines to inform everything from in-store activations to screen content. The Suncorp Discovery Store now holds workshops and brings their full range of services to life. For customers, it was all about creating genuine connections and having open conversations about the financial goals that mattered to them.
Client Melbourne Airport
Sector Customer experience
Location Melbourne, Australia
Every year, 37 million travellers pass through Melbourne airport. It’s a staggering number that’s expected to almost double over the next two decades, making it the busiest airport in Australia. While functional and practical in design, the airport doesn’t exactly have a reputation for being unique or memorable – which is what brought us to the table.
We were asked to help transform the airport into a place that offered a truly extraordinary experience for travellers from around the world. It started with a vision and experiences handbook that we shared with over twenty thousand airport staff. Called “The Little Book of Gold”, it was full of practical tips and guiding advice to create better traveller experiences across the board.
From there we developed a set of recommendations around the key moments that matter to people at the beginning and end of their journey – introducing landmark experiences across the entire airport that put travellers first. In short, our masterplan would take the experience of air travel a big step forward.
Client Manchester City Football Club
Sector Customer experience
Location Manchester, UK
Manchester City’s move from Maine Road to Etihad Stadium was designed to encourage fans to spend more time at the ground, boost match day revenue, and create a deeper connection to the club. But the move presented a serious problem for fans with age-old match day routines and strong emotional ties to their home ground. They asked us to help fans fall in love with their club’s new home and hit higher revenue targets.
Part retail, part entertainment, and entirely for Manchester City fans, we designed an experience strategy for the iconic City Square. From the blue carpet experience where young fans could get up close with their heroes to a string of pre and post match entertainment, our vision aimed to compel people to come earlier, stay longer, and have an incredible day out. And that’s exactly what happened.
38% of Man City fans turn out to City Square on match days, while on average, only 11% of fans from other teams attend their own dedicated zones.
Client Adelaide Airport
Sector Traveller experience
Location Adelaide, AUS
Some of our strongest memories are formed at an airport. Whether it’s the joy of arriving or the sadness of leaving, the airport is the backdrop to a million memories. Adelaide Airport took a pioneering approach to creating the future traveller experience. They partnered with FreeState and Hassell, because they knew this project could go beyond placemaking, to be experience- and memory-making for years to follow.
Beyond buildings – this project collaboration is about the moments in-between. Crafting these moments along a narrative journey of place and story to create a distinct experience for Adelaide Airport. One that reflects Adelaide’s unique culture, character, vitality and renown sense of welcome and friendliness. Enhancing all the outstanding qualities of the airport, and adding a few more.
The result is an experience framework, a platform for self-expression and a better use and activation of the spaces and places in the precinct to create greater attraction, involvement and a sense of belonging. All together, we sought out to explore how the airport could play a more active role in the traveller experience as the conductor of truly memorable moments.
Client Cross River Rail
Sector Passenger experience
Location Brisbane, AUS
Cross River Rail is the largest public transport project planned in Queensland’s history. The project will resolve current and future network constraints, support Brisbane’s growth, and provide a broad range of city-building opportunities with an emphasis on promoting high-quality public space and station design outcomes.
Cross River Rail took a pioneering process towards creating world-class experiences for all. They commissioned FreeState and Brickfields to define a targeted set of passenger profiles and experience opportunities to better inform the design briefs and decisions. This people-first approach, based on primary and secondary research, provided important user insights to better understand passengers’ needs, expectations and emerging trends to create a distinct and memorable experience for all that encourages people to return again.
At the heart of the CRR design response is the development of six user profiles informed by quantitative surveys of nearly 1,500 people, and nine key initiatives that consider the passenger journey from a holistic point of view. The results? Attraction of a wider audience, more frequent ridership and positive experiences for all.
Client Virgin Atlantic
Sector Customer experience
Location London, UK
Airports have a reputation for being memorable experiences for all the wrong reasons. Slow, congested, and often poorly designed, they can leave travellers frustrated and anxious before their trip has begun. When Virgin Atlantic decided to rethink their presence at London’s Heathrow airport, they asked us to help design a terminal, check-in service, and business lounge that would set a new standard for travellers around the world. It would need to be intuitive, convenient, and above all, a place for people – not systems. Empathy was our starting point. And the endgame was a faster and smoother traveller experience, better service, shorter wait times – and for gold and upper class travellers, a chance to relax in the best business lounge in the world.
75% drop in check-in waiting times
30% boost to overall customer satisfaction
100% staff rating for upper class customers
90% staff rating for economy customers
Client Creative Victoria
Sector Visitor experience
Location Melbourne, AUS
Home to some of the finest galleries and theatres anywhere in the world, the Melbourne Arts Precinct in Southbank sits as the city’s crowning cultural jewel. Set for a spectacular $1 billion transformation across iconic buildings and new spaces, we found ourselves among the core design team.
In a broad sense, our task was three-fold: to create an experience strategy that would inspire and guide the architecture and landscape design, cement the precinct’s cultural and creative reputation around the world, and ensure that the millions of people who visit each year were front and centre of every decision. In a very real sense, the massive redevelopment needed to instil visitors with a deep connection to performance, art and nature.
Collaborating with the key design firms – and the forty-odd institutions that make up the precinct – we developed five core principles that would define the visitor experience. Together with a string of other recommendations, they formed the basis of the experience strategy which helped steer the project towards a singular vision that had masterpiece written all over it.
Sector Customer experience
Sony once ruled the world of electronics and technology. But the rise of Apple and Samsung prompted a massive rethink – and a global rebrand. They called the campaign “like.no.other.”, and asked us to create an experience that lived up to that statement. Our task? To make their 18,000 square-metre pavilion at the IFA Berlin tradeshow launch into an experience that would steal the show.
From the moment customers stepped inside, we wanted them to feel as though they’d entered a world within a world. A place where they’d be inspired and intrigued at every turn. Our vision considered all aspects of experience, engaged the senses, and took people on a journey like no other.
With over thirty thousand devices screening content and a striking 70 metre screen, customers were guided by interactive technology that let them control aspects of their journey. The outcome for Sony saw record NPS scores and a 30% overall increase in sales. Under our direction the Sony brand experiences won seven international awards in four years – including a coveted Gold Cannes Lion award for Design.
Client University of Western Australia
Sector Student experience
Location Perth, AUS
The University of Western Australia is in the middle of the delivery of the most significant of changes since its inception, one built on a single premise: How good, it asks, could we be? However, despite its reputation, its results and its beautiful campus, over a third of UWA’s students reported feeling unengaged and unwelcome. We were asked to create an activation plan for the campus, one which gave its students, staff and partners the sense of belonging to the most thrilling of universities.
Recommending that the campus of the future is part agora part innovation cluster, we created a vision for a vibrant and free flowing campus. Fun, relevant, and stimulating, The Marketplace of Ideas proposed the activation of a campus – through a set of guidelines, fixed and intermittent activities, and an activation team – that gave national and international students, to its staff, and to industry partners everything they needed and wanted: acceptance, stimulation, and opportunity.
Still in process, our recommendations for UWA’s activated campus have seen increased on-campus dwell time, rising ATAR scores, and improved student experience survey results from Quilt, ISB and UES.
Sector Community experience
Location Melbourne, AUS
The QIC aspiration for the Eastland precinct recognises the need for it to be an urban destination of choice. One that informs the ever-changing ecosystem of the East with flexible and adaptive mixed-use offerings. Without an experiential underlay – one that starts with the community and people – there was a risk of re-creating plans of the past and developing stranded assets.
QIC partnered with FreeState to develop an authentic and rich human vision, underpinned by inspiring experience & design principles, that align all stakeholders and guides design decisions for both intermediate and long term time horizons. Ultimately, curating a sense of place and identity that the community, the workforce and visitors can rally around.
In partnership with Hassell, we conducted research and trend analysis to better understand project drivers, community identity opportunities, tenant profiles and spatial experience opportunities that went on to inform the precinct masterplan, and also provided key insights and opportunities to authentically deliver the rich Eastland design and experience vision.