July 9, 2015
As if there aren’t enough reasons to dislike tall buildings already, two news stories drop into our inbox this week which add to the growing charge sheet against these phallic assaults on our senses and sensibilities. According to the first story, it appears that the recent proliferation of towers in London not only means that the city looks more and more like Chicago, it is functioning more like it too. There are a growing number of complaints from the public about the winds that whip around the bases of the capital’s protrusions which were ‘unforeseen by planners’, according to a report in Building magazine. Meanwhile, developers in Melbourne have made the civilisation-ending announcement that the design of a new mixed use skyscraper in the city is based on a Beyoncé music video and make particular reference to the shape of the artist’s backside.
June 25, 2015
In Dubai, there are no suburban dinosaurs; those large-scale, single purpose office buildings that ignore the agile realities of modern working life. In the western world, these giants evolved on business parks, driven by the perceived benefits of having office workers agglomerated in order to achieve efficiency of communication and dissemination. The business practices and technologies that underpinned these buildings have evolved and improved and many are in the process of being re-purposed. Things happen on a grander scale in the Middle East where the mantra is “if the land-use doesn’t fit the land, make more land.” Here, the patterns of work and place have evolved differently from the west, and at a much faster pace with creeping tides of development spreading rapidly out from the small centres of traditional trade and commerce to vast tracts of new development.
June 24, 2015
The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat has announced the winners of the Best Tall Building Awards for 2015. The winners were selected from a pool of 123 entries based on an evaluation by a panel of industry experts. The organisers claim that not only do the winners exemplify best practice they also advocate ‘improvements in every aspect of performance, including those that have the greatest positive effect on the people who use these buildings and the cities they inhabit’. Many of this year’s winners demonstrate a commitment to sustainability, especially those that make use of greenery to enhance the looks and environmental credentials of the building. The organisers also note that buildings are better integrated into their surroundings which ‘has been a long-needed requirement’. The Best Tall Buildings have been named from 33 countries in four competing regions.
June 3, 2015
TechNorth, the Manchester based technology hothouse devised as a regional counterbalance to London, is held in higher regard than the capital’s flagship TechCity development, according to research from recruitment firm Robert Half. The study of IT decision makers across the UK claims that the vast majority would prioritise working with Northern firms over their London counterparts, with 87 percent either ‘highly likely’ or ‘somewhat likely’ to place work with IT businesses in the TechNorth hub rather than those in TechCity London given the choice. The figure is 100 percent for IT leaders based in the North and to 95 percent for those in Scotland. More surprisingly, 80 percent of those based London and the South East said they would prioritise TechNorth, as did 75 percent in the South West and Wales.
June 3, 2015
Plans for what is billed as the tallest office building outside of London have been submitted to Birmingham City Council for approval. The proposed 26 storey tower at 103 Colmore Row is planned to stand 346ft (105m) and house some 2,000 office workers. Birmingham is bound to find the scheme attractive as it vies with Manchester for the crown of England’s second city. Up to now, tall buildings have not enjoyed the same appeal in regional cities as much as they have in London. The new building is planned to replace the former NatWest tower which has lain empty on the development site since 2003 and is set to be demolished once plans are finalised for its replacement. If given a green light, the new scheme will incorporate a rooftop restaurant, green roof, terraces, street level shops and cafes and a winter garden.
May 27, 2015
The rapid urbanization of our world and the weaving of existing and new buildings into the urban fabric of Smart City initiatives are some of the great challenges facing our global industry today. Along with the vast amount of definitions and marketing campaigns surrounding the phrase “Smart Cities” comes the challenge of understanding why the movement is important to the Architecture, Engineering, Construction and Facility Management (AEC/FM) industry and how industry stakeholders can profit from, or at the very least, not get run over by the tsunami called Smart Cities. The emergence of Smart Cities as the conduit for ideas, thoughts, policies and strategies for the world’s urban environments is an important milestone for our industry, and it comes at a time of rapid innovation, convergence and redefinitions.
May 1, 2015
Unsurprisingly, the high profile relocation of HSBC to a new base in Birmingham has been rubberstamped by the city’s council. Despite HSBC’s recent threat to quit the UK completely, the planning committee has confirmed that the move, first announced in March, will go ahead as planned. The new 210,000 sq. ft. landmark building at the 2 Arena Central mixed use scheme has been designed by Ken Shuttleworth for handover to HSBC in 2017. The move to Birmingham has been largely attributed to the bank’s reaction to the financial crisis and the subsequent climate of legislative reform and public criticism. HSBC has longstanding links with the West Midlands and The Birmingham Post reported recently that it may resurrect the name Midland Bank as it relocates 1,000 staff to the UK’s heartland.
April 24, 2015
The vast majority of small businesses in London and other parts of the South East are considering relocating over the next five years because they are frustrated with the lack of appropriate facilities and soaring commercial property costs in the region. A new study from the University of Sussex’s business incubation network Sussex Innovation claims that nearly two thirds (63 percent) of small businesses, rising to 78 percent of technology startups, believe their future may depend on leaving the capital. The study claims this threatens the viability of the Government’s flagship Tech City hub just months after it announced a new scheme to attract firms to the area. The research is based on a study of over 500 business owners and leaders in London and the South East and was presented at the launch of Sussex Innovation’s new hub in Croydon.
April 20, 2015
Planning permission has been granted for two major new towers at Canary Wharf in East London. The developer Canary Wharf Group has been granted full permission for the 1 Bank Street development and outline planning permission for 1 Park Place. The 1 Bank Street building has been designed by architects Kohn Pederson Fox and is a 700,000 sq. ft. commercial property with 27 storeys including three levels of trading floors and also retail facilities at ground level as well as landscaping and public spaces. Bank Société Générale has already agreed a lease for 280,000 sq. ft. of the building over seven storeys on a 25 year lease. The planning committee at Tower Hamlets council has also granted outline planning permission for the 1 Park Place scheme, a 31-storey office building offering around one million sq. ft. of space.
April 7, 2015
Developers have submitted a revised masterplan for the £5 billion Greenwich Peninsula mixed use development in East London. The new plans not only increase the number of homes on site but also include a greater focus on digital arts and media studios as well as more high rise buildings in keeping with London’s current predilection for tall buildings and emphasising the shift in London’s centre of gravity eastwards. The original plan, created by Farrell & Partners and dating back to 2004 are described as outdated by developers Knight Dragon, who have submitted the new mixed use plan for around 15,000 dwellings, 59,000 sq.m. of hotel, retail and recreational space and 60,000 sq.m. of office space as well as a design district, space for healthcare buildings, educational facilities, transport hubs, visitor attractions, parking, cycling paths, community facilities and parks.
March 30, 2015
Deloitte has launched a new report into the Technology, Media and Telecommunications sector in the Middle East. Deloitte predicts that 2015 will be ‘pivotal’ for Digital Islamic Services as they start to take off across the Middle East region. The report estimates that within the next three to four years the region’s digital economy will nearly double in size from around US$15 billion currently to around $30 billion by 2018. The predictions are based on hundreds of discussions with industry executives, analysts and commentators, along with tens of thousands of individual interviews. The report also predicts that Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries will make significant open data advancements in 2015, and within the next three to five years, break into the top half of countries ranked the most ‘open’ in the world.
March 25, 2015
Banking giant HSBC has announced the relocation of its core banking business for personal and business customers to the Arena Central development in Birmingham. The move will see the bank take a long term lease on a 210,000 sq. ft. office and relocate around a thousand employees to the new headquarters building from London over the next four years. The choice of location follows a review into the bank’s operations and its ability to service the needs of some 16 million customers in the UK. The West Midlands is the UK’s second largest financial centre after London, with some 220,000 employees across the region. Two years ago, Deutsche Bank completed a deal for 200,000 sq. ft. of new space at Brindleyplace and earlier this year, the local council announced plans for the Snow Hill area in an attempt to create an alternative to London’s Docklands.