People & Places

Modern office development increasingly involves providing more than ‘somewhere to work’. While office space is the central function, the surroundings of successful developments increasingly blend attractive public realm with quality leisure and retail outlets. The result is sympathetic environmental landscaping, and easy routes for walking and cycling that seamlessly interconnect to public transport. In short, successful development creates a distinct identity and connections within and beyond the neighbourhood. This outcome is not ‘just another building’; it is placemaking.

This growing shift to make office development a focal driver for improved urban space reflects modern expectations of how we live, work and spend our free time. The strict divisions between work and leisure are blurring. We can work flexibly and on the move, and there are dominant, influential social trends and preferences, notably collaboration, sharing and wellbeing.

The 2016 BCO report Placemaking: the role of offices in creating better places explores the changing workplace and how offices have a growing and important role in urban design that can transform neglected neighbourhoods. It sets out the four core pillars of great placemaking: vibrancy, connectivity, a sense of wellbeing and context. Leadership, vision and cooperative partnerships are identified as critical factors in making mixed-use developments successful.

For developers a successful and popular mixed-use regeneration project is likely to increase property values above market rates. There is also evidence that an improved public realm results in lower than average void rates, higher rental returns, and rental growth that exceeds market benchmarks.

For occupiers it is likely to mean that office space within a placemaking setting improves staff efficiency and wellbeing, and is an asset in attracting and retaining the best employees.

Community businesses and residents may also benefit, with socio-economic advantages including an upswing in trade and lower crime rates. They may also have a better sense of wellbeing from working and living in an area with an improved look and reputation.

Successful placemaking is not without its challenges.  It needs a champion, early involvement with planning bodies to develop a broad public realm vision as well as regular engagement with relevant stakeholders.  

Access the BCO research page and download reports to read more on the future of workplace. Become a member, join the debate and help to shape the future of the industry