Better Workplaces - Havas Village’s old tea factory

Ashley Regan
By Ashley Regan | 29 September 2023

Employee preferences for WFH means workplaces need to utilise office spaces as a tool to connect with staff. In Better Workplaces, AdNews looks at how agencies use office design to entice staff to come in and create a company culture worth staying for.

Havas Village in Sydney is located on levels 3-6 in the heritage-listed Bushells Building on Harrington Street in The Rocks. 

Initially built in the 1920s, the building produced tea for 50 years and after was turned into office space in the 1990s with Havas moving in in 2019.

The current design reflects Havas culture and was completed by Hammond Studio and MPA to become one of Sydney's best creative workspaces says James Wright, group CEO Havas Creative Group Australia.

“We have created dynamic and inspirational spaces with different types of workstations, meeting rooms and communal areas to ensure we have flexibility for the many different types of agencies we have in the Havas Village,” he told AdNews

grass walkway

The building features a dramatic entry lobby with a full height atrium and is largely open plan with many communal areas, kitchens, and meeting rooms on each floor. 

The entire building features high ceilings, exposed services, stunning ironbark columns and ceilings, and many of the original fittings and fixtures from its Bushell Factory heritage era are visible, maintained and conserved.

“The building has the ‘wow’ effect for clients, team members and visitors,” Wright said.

glass roof  

Wright’s personal favourite aspect of the office is the entry level Atrium, a historic and contemporary space that welcomes visitors.

“The area features some history of the building, some original factory fixtures but it’s when you look up that your mouth drops, you can see to the top of the building,” Wright said.

“The angles of the sleek glass walkways that take you from the elevators on the side of the building into the floors proper are dramatic and contemporary, it’s impressive. 

“Overall, the building is kind of an Anachronism, we love it."


Office styling.

sixth floors 

Level six waiting area.

The sixth floor is the office’s main reception area which also hosts Town Hall gatherings in a large open space with giant screens and modern bleachers with a large robust kitchen and bar area at the back.

Many clients and industry bodies also use the space for events.


Staff kitchen.

Staff kitchen

Staff kitchen.

The sixth floor also includes a diverse range of meeting and boardrooms, as well as recording, photo and editing studios and office space. 

staff booths

Staff booths on level six.

1-person meeting room

One-person meeting room.

small meeting room

Small meeting room.

small meeting room

Small meeting room.


Internal slides.

A big highlight is the windy slides that flow between office floors, an original feature that the tea products travelled on. 

However, Havas had to put glass between the floors to block travel between the floors.

“We have a lot of what you might describe as eclectic and playful people across the agency teams, and some found the slides quite fun in the beginning for a variety of inventive reasons, which we unfortunately had to stop…,” Wright said.

The office also features some eclectic art.


“The Glue Society (who are an art collective amongst other things) were commissioned by Host to create an installation for the Host building in Butt street in about 2012,” Wright said.

“The office was in the heart of Surry Hills which was definitely 'vibrant' at the time. It was an art piece that captured our surroundings and I believe their take on it was to reverse the notion of a pigeon shitting on your head”.


Pigeon artwork.

Staff desks

The Havas Village has over 260 staff in Sydney and presently everyone has their own desks, with some areas for hot desking for colleagues visiting from Auckland, Brisbane, and Melbourne, as well as clients; and there’s still plenty of room for growth. 

“Since COVID we have included more stand-up desks, evolved some of the spacing and have introduced more smaller meeting rooms with sound proofing because of the increased number of video calls and virtual presentations we are doing” Wright said.

“Mostly we are back to the original set up in the open plan though.” 


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