As towns and cities come back to life post pandemic, there is a growing need to rethink workplace buildings to better prepare them for the major challenges currently facing the real estate sector.
One of these is to make buildings work harder as ‘positive contributors’ to the urban environment; allowing them to become a much more proactive and essential contributor to local life, infrastructure and services, and thereby helping to future-proof the role they play in our city centres.
This is not only about retrofitting buildings with greenery to make them eco-friendly; it is also about the evolution of ‘spaces’ to ‘places’ that all community stakeholders ultimately benefit from.
A good example is truly enabling buildings to generate their own power and contribute to the local grid. This lowers running costs and enables tenants to move towards carbon neutrality – adding to the appeal of the building to potential occupants – while turning the building into an important contributor to local infrastructure.
Improving e-mobility capabilities is another example. While e-bike charging stations are sometimes found outside buildings, opportunities like the forthcoming next-gen Santander e-bikes invite developers to more closely integrate mobility solutions into the building and streetscape.
This makes the building more attractive to commute to, work in and visit, decreases the amount of road pollution and supports people’s movement locally – which ultimately feeds the local economy.
There are other ways buildings can become positive contributors too, like providing local start-ups with affordable space within them to support their growth and the diversity of the building’s ecosystem or taking a greater stake in what happens at street level to help support local government initiatives around air pollution, congestion and safety.
By stitching buildings more closely into the fabric of the city in this way, the real estate sector can help ensure their stock survives the challenges ahead.
Hugo Jamson is creative director at NewTerritory