As an architect, my focus is on collaboration, flexibility and the creation of healthy spaces that will attract talent and contribute positively to the environment. 

Michael Walters

Michael Walters

The life sciences industry thrives on collaboration. When selecting locations, companies often look for supportive ecosystems that provide access to skilled talent, foster knowledge-sharing and offer networking opportunities.

The urban environment, with its clustering effect, continues to drive life sciences companies towards collaboration. This shift is beneficial both for companies and talent, as it creates a deeper supportive environment, enhances networking opportunities, improves transport links and fosters engaging and exciting places.

For start-ups and scale-ups, a thriving ecosystem is essential for growth. Co-locating with research facilities, tech companies and biotech/pharma businesses provides a strong foundation.

The Covid-19 pandemic has prompted us to rethink the use of properties. Scientists have always preferred natural environments that offer sunlight, outdoor space, fresh air and vibrant green places.

University campuses embody this natural setting, pairing green spaces with historic buildings. As science increasingly moves to urban locations, we have the opportunity to incorporate the lessons learned during the pandemic and shift towards healthier, greener spaces.

A growing trend is the leasing of space to smaller tenants on short-term agreements. This allows landlords and developers to curate the environment more effectively in the long term. The spaces can be adapted to meet the evolving requirements of scientists and businesses. By investing in creating vibrant environments that attract talent, we can ensure the buildings and spaces we design become highly sought after in the market.

Each of these aspects is embedded within our projects, most notably the conversion of the grade II-listed Victoria House in Bloomsbury and the repurposing of the Grafton Centre in Cambridge.

Michael Walters is group director at architecture firm Corstorphine & Wright