Welcome to Community

Just as any structure benefits from a strong foundation, the same goes for its design process.  Great architecture is designed around people; our individual preferences, the way we work and live, our dreams and aspirations. The more we understand people’s experiences and interactions, the stronger the foundation for your project’s success.


Give your designer the perfect brief

Surroundings Community is a specialist consultancy in human-centred design. In other words, we ensure that buildings and public spaces are made for people. We design, facilitate and run workshops that help people clarify, articulate and realise their ideal environments.

Think of us as a bridge between the community and project owners – translating key insights and findings into the perfect brief for architects and designers.


Complicated made simple

We’re here to manage the complexities of a large building project – to make everything as simple as possible from the outset.

The involvement of many decision-makers, influencers and stakeholders can make the navigation of your project difficult. But thanks to our specialist workshops, we help bring the community together and provide a clear, objective direction for the future


Creating positive outcomes for everyone 

A building should be shaped by the people living in it. That’s why we take the time to listen to people, involve them in the process and understand them. By designing a project around a set of human experiences and rituals, we can ensure it meets the needs of the community.

Workshopping benefits everyone. It enables clients and designers to uncover new insights, perspectives, opportunities and inspiration; to accelerate their expertise; and to deepen relationships.

And from the community’s perspective, it creates a sense of belonging, connection and involvement with the project.

Why Surroundings?

We give you the best of both worlds. We’re qualified architects with many years’ experience in the practical elements of building design. But we also offer expertise in the more emotional, human-centred side of design. We approach projects from the perspectives of both the client and the architect – and that’s what sets us apart.


Who we work with

We’re happy to work with project owners, community leaders, architects and designers – or anyone who takes a design lead and wants help with the workshop and briefing process.

Whether you’re a small business owner wanting to develop your own space, a niche business looking to showcase your innovation and creativity, or a community project leader needing help with social engagement and consultation, we’re here to help you realise your perfect environment.


How the process works

We’re in the business of starting conversations. Our workshops inspire stakeholders to discuss ideas, viewpoints and experiences – creating a culture of trust and inclusion between the community, design team and project owners.  The process is split into four consulting phases:

1. Define

We meet with the client and lead architect to define the project goals, the consultation process and the manner in which we will engage the community. We then tailor the workshop content to best achieve your objectives.

2. Insight

We run workshops, group exercises, surveys and other research methods to engage all stakeholders and inspire dialogue. Each group consists of 8-10 people and always includes the designers and project representatives. We also custom design digital surveys to support the workshop.

3. Human Centred Brief

We collate and consolidate our findings from the workshops and surveys – identifying patterns and opportunities. We also analyse similar projects to find best practice examples, and then formulate our findings into a User Centred Brief, which can be used by the client and architect as a springboard for their design.


4. Alignment

We interpret the workshop data to provide environmental and cultural recommendations for your design. We then conduct regular peer reviews at key points in the project to ensure its development aligns with the community’s feedback.


Some feature projects




Experience Design

Sharing our methods with other architects and designers