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Future Proofing

How developers are delivering to market trends now and in the future.

Image © Tim Soar

When a growing occupier seeks new office space, the question of ‘New or refresh’ will doubtless raise its thorny head. But what is it that drives occupiers into making their property portfolio decisions?

In the modern view, it’s acknowledged that the occupier market revolves around the needs of the business as opposed to the constraints of the building form. Most developers and investors know this, and the smart ones react to it by providing more opportunity for tenants.For most buildings, complete demolition should be the last resort, with salvage or recycling options explored first.

At the Angel Building, the developer, Derwent London, took the decision to recycle the 1970s property from the core. This opened the door for a new architectural vision that included expanded elevations, an atrium, a new reception area, rooftop terrace and retail space. By providing a very flexible, energy efficient offering to tenants, the rejuvenated building is now fully let, and with much better rental revenues than the original property could ever have mustered.

Of course, new build will always have a place, especially for the larger occupiers. But the same rules apply -maximise the opportunity for flexible change, and the building becomes more attractive to a wider audience of potential purchasers. The real advantage for new build occupiers comes when negotiations regarding the layout and fit-out of the space are made early on. In their relocation plan, TV retail business QVC required a very unique space, but were able to work it into the base build delivery model with the developer. This pre-let advantage enabled the tenant flexibility and time to incorporate the bespoke systems they needed.

So, having rejected the battery hen approach to the working experience, it really doesn’t matter whether the building is new or refreshed – the approach should be the same. The duty of developers, designers and the whole professional team, is to provide invigorating environments in which businesses, and the people within them, can thrive.

In this mindset, property should be thought of as a blank canvas with the ability to flex with the unique demands of any potential tenant’s visions. Be it speculative new builds, refurbishments, façade retentions, extensions or the re-planning of layouts, the building that is robust to change and flexible for adaptation, will serve occupiers best in the long run. One size will not fit all. Businesses are different, and have a tendency to change over time in occupation.