University of Sydney: Susan Wakil Health Building – A Leap into the Future of Higher Education


University of Sydney: Susan Wakil Health Building

A Leap into the Future of Higher Education



The Susan Wakil Health Building (SWHB) forms the first part of a new Health Precinct at the University, and houses several health and medicine related schools and disciplines under the same roof. The SWHB aims to be a leader in interdisciplinary research, collaboration, and teaching, to become a world class leader in health innovation, learning, and policy.  

“Activity Based Working has certainly enabled collaboration and there are many great examples where a more connected workforce, working from a shared environment has led to innovation and new connections. We have been able to create a sense of belonging for people in the building. This is done less so through the design of the space, but more so through the organisation of social activities.”

Lisa Carrick, Director Transition Program, Faculty of Medicine and Health


We experienced some resistance from staff and faculty who believed Activity Based Working to be incompatible with the way of working at universities.

To mitigate resistance, we created a pilot space for staff to gain a hands-on introduction to an Activity Based Working workspace and experience it for themselves. The support of high leadership buy-in also helped align and guide staff members on the future of work at the University.

The delivery of the change program was met with challenges in resourcing and capability building

Veldhoen + Company developed the change strategy and approach to support the transition program. We also played a significant role in delivering interventions, alongside supporting and coaching the integrated team.

Among our key considerations when designing some of the interventions was how to make the change scalable. We provided e-learning modules detailing the behavioural changes required to all staff and stakeholders and ensured that each individual’s learning could be personalised. These helped to minimise the strain placed on resources.

Veldhoen + Company also supported co- facilitation workshops to help build the University’s internal change management capability.

“The beauty of Activity Based Working is that you can adapt the concept to whatever you need as an organisation. It is not one-size-fits all and you can tailor the variety of settings to your needs.”

Lisa Carrick, Director Transition Program, Faculty of Medicine and Health


The Susan Wakil Health Building opened in September 2020. ITs three office workspace levels accommodate numerous schools and disciplines that now form the Faculty of Medicine and Health. The space is arranged in a neighbourhood fashion where each school and discipline is anchored to its own part of the workspace, but staff can easily and serendipitously interact with colleagues from other areas of study. Enclosed and bookable rooms are available to facilitate cross-disciplinary collaboration, with a separate section exclusively dedicated to student-staff interactions.

People can navigate through the activity zones intuitively and understand the etiquettes around the use of each space. There are opportunities for both planned and ad-hoc interdisciplinary collaborations, which help foster the vision of being a global leader in health.

Project gallery

Some images from our work in this space

Billard Leece Partnership (BLP) & Diller Scofidio Renfro

“Looking back on the process to implement a new way of working, there is nothing that I would do differently. I feel we have, with the support of Veldhoen + Company, prepared very well for this transition into a new way of working.”

Lisa Carrick, Director Transition Program, Faculty of Medicine and Health

Download the complete case study of the University of Sydney’s Susan Wakil Health Building Project

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For more about this project please contact Martijn Joosten

Martijn Joosten

Australia & New Zealand

Want to know more?Martijn Joosten

+61 448 458 835

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