Where others saw a dilapidated building, Prue Swain saw opportunity and optimism, a chance to bring people together and create a space buzzing with excitement. And so, HIVE was born.

This time two years ago, Prue Swain and husband Andrew wrapped up the kind of renovation that would bring most couples to their knees. But after being on the tools throughout Christmas, this driven pair emerged from what was Orange’s original St Vincent de Paul warehouse to present a co-working space to the envy of all others.

The purpose designed, state-of-the-art facility rechristened as HIVE was, in Prue’s own words, “an absolute dump”. But today (after a minor hiatus thanks to COVID), the transformed space offers Orange’s remote workers a place to meet, grow, learn and collaborate with one another.

And what a space it is. Green velvet chairs float atop polished concrete floors, inky blue benchtops sit alongside rust-coloured tiles in the communal kitchen, and feature pendants throw divine light onto original features, like exposed brickwork and beams. Unique, hand-painted murals adorn the walls too, dotted among HIVE’s highly-functional spaces that include 10 hot desks, two boardrooms, two meeting rooms, and a theatre-style training room that seats 25. Whatever corner of HIVE you choose, you’ll have full WIFI, access to the exquisite kitchen and bespoke catering on request.

But best of all, you’ll have the opportunity to forge new connections, draw on the experience of others and brainstorm new and wonderful ideas in the heart of Orange’s CBD.

“That’s my favourite thing about what we’ve achieved here – the community,” says Prue.

“We house 50 permanent tenants who are a wonderful bunch of people, they’re the backbone of the building, they’re the ones who have created our beautiful community. Before opening, I hadn’t met the majority of our people, but since opening the doors in March 2021 I’ve formed some beautiful friendships – it feels like an extended family here at HIVE, we all lean on each other when needed too.”

Home away from home

A key part of Prue’s vision was the desire to create a space that felt like home – a place that was cosy and relaxed, but also inspiring and professional.

“It certainly feels like a beautiful office, but there are elements that make it feel like home,” says Prue.

“It’s not uncommon to see a kid tearing down the hallway or watching TV in a spare room – there have even been mornings where my own eight-year-old son Wally wakes up early to help me with a breakfast function. I’ve always been passionate about good food, so the catering packages we offer – whether you’re here for an hour or a week – have been a lovely way for me to combine my worlds, too, we’ve been so lucky.”

But it’s more than luck at play at HIVE, there’s vision and creativity and a passion to support the community at large. Prue had noticed the town’s demographic was changing, the dynamic was shifting and young professionals were moving from capital cities to establish their own businesses or work remotely. There was a real need for a space that was open to all industry under the one roof, a place for corporates and creatives alike. After taking the plunge to create that space – and despite a minor setback in the form of a global pandemic – Prue, Andrew and the community of Orange are now happily reaping the benefits.

“What I love most about HIVE is how I can walk in on any given morning and see someone arriving to visit a tenant, who then runs into someone else and before they know it all their business and creative needs are fulfilled in one fell swoop – that’s the magic of co-working spaces.”

{words: Steph Wanlessphotography: Little Image Co}