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Buro Four’s ‘Achieving high-performance buildings’ event, 25 January

Buro Four held an event in January assessing what the higher education sector and the private sector could learn from each other in terms of building more high-performance buildings.

On Wednesday 25th January a range of higher education construction professionals gathered at our London office to discuss: 'achieving high-performance buildings'. The conference, run in conjunction with Higher Education Design Quality Forum (HEDQF), investigated what the higher education sector and the private sector could learn from each other in terms of building more high-performance buildings.

The four guest speakers took to the stage to present their opinions on the topic, coming from a variety of different expert viewpoints and professional backgrounds. The speakers included:

  • Martin Summersgill, Head of Development at UCL East
  • Mara Cummings, Director Technical Facilities, Planning and Engineering at Discovery
  • Helen Berresford, Head of ID:SR, Sheppard Robson’s award-winning interior design group
  • Tony Poole, Partner and Head of Universities & Colleges, at Sheppard Robson

We were keen to create discussion around this topic and find out what end users are looking for; whether a university designing a workspace for students, or a big global corporate designing for employees and different departments.

A variety of interesting themes came out of the event. Mara Cummings of Discovery discussed how health can be considered in every aspect of a fit-out project, even extending to having a health clinic onsite in order to keep employees healthy.

Another point emphasised by a number of the speakers - particularly ID:SR - was the importance of offices appealing to the younger generation just about to enter the workplace. With office designs becoming more innovative, and the blurring between work and play continuing, young people are increasingly looking for somewhere modern yet adaptable to their individual lifestyles.

On the evening we asked the audience to take part in an interactive poll to find out their thoughts on the future of workplace design. Findings were:

  • Which sector is leading the way in innovative workplace design? 67% voted for the corporate sector.
  • Do you see demand for formal allocated space in the higher education sector increasing or decreasing in the future? 97% voted for decreasing.
  • Private cellular offices – are they the dinosaurs of the workplace and due for extinction? 60% voted they would be extinct.

Ian Caldwell, Chair of the Events and Conference Committee of the Higher Education Design Quality Forum and ex-Estates Director of Kings College London, said of the event:

“On behalf of HEDQF (and myself) can I also thank you all for making last night the success it was.  Everyone I spoke to found it both interesting and enjoyable. Thanks to Buro Four for hosting it”

If you would like to find out more about Buro Four’s services for the Commercial Offices sector, please contact Richard Young, Director ( or for information of our services for the Corporate Occupiers sector, please contact Stuart Flaxton, Director of Corporate Occupiers (

If you are interested in attending one of Buro Four’s events please email: