Office buildings of the future need to be flexible and modest in order to reduce costs and adhere to environmental targets.
The British Council of Offices (BCO) annual event took place in Edinburgh on May 20 - 22. The spotlight was on issues currently faced by developers and occupiers and the solutions available to them.
Sustainability is driving the office agenda. Developers are now challenged with reducing costs and adhering to the latest environmental requirements whilst retaining high quality design standards. The practice of developers completing buildings to Category A standard in order to market the space to its full potential - only to have the occupier rip out the design to their style and requirements - is no longer feasible.
To minimise waste, developers need to focus on the design of those items which could change the most in order to incorporate the flexibility required to satisfy both the developer's Category A finish and the incoming occupier's proposed fit out. This could include:
- Selection of a cooling medium which allows flexibility of layout and future versatility
- Consideration given to the likely location of special areas i.e meeting suites, restaurants, and the enhancement the Category A specification to those areas accordingly
- Expansion space for future services installation is properly thought out with clear logic given to the location of additional plant space
- Development of schemes for reception areas which include the design of fittings and finishes which can be removed relatively easily and without disruption of the supporting sub-structure
It is equally important that the occupier's own fit out recognises and makes best use of these provisions.
Developers can look at re-using space, either new space where better planning is required for future flexibility or existing space which needs to be recycled in a more productive way.
Michael Martin, Head of commercial services at Faithful+Gould, said: "Offices of the future need to be functional and future proofed, no matter how uncertain the market may be. The challenge is to create an office that embraces environmental requirements, incorporates a clever use of new standards and materials whilst balancing capital restraints. We have many years' experience in this sector, delivering office blocks that meet the criteria in terms of sustainability and flexibility while driving down the costs."