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The future of retail – High Street Bladerunners and Apple in Wonderland

AT&T Flagship Chicago

AT&T’s flagship Chicago store

I was going to write this week on the manifesto from MANTOWNHUMAN – subtitled “TOWARDS A NEW HUMANISM IN ARCHITECTURE” but frankly the dystopian visions it conjured up drove such a bulldozer through any human sensibility as to prove thoroughly depressing. You can find it here if you’re that way inclined. I’d be interested in your views. Instead I’m following up on a faintly hagiographic article in Adweek which recently hailed a new frontier in physical retail spaces, building on the success of Apple’s uber-cool high street playgrounds for bored teenagers and husbands. The store in question and an example of what many are hailing as the future of retail is AT&T’s new flagship on the self-styled Magnificent Mile in Chicago.

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Applications for UK commercial property developments continue to fall

Commercial property constructionAccording to law firm EMW LLP, the number of planning applications submitted for commercial property developments in the UK has fallen for a second successive year. The firm claims that the around 4 percent fall is down to declining demand from tenants. However there are stark contrasts between London and the rest of the UK measured both in terms of market activity and the number of tower cranes on the skyline, with London now having more than the rest of the UK combined for the third consecutive year according to the Health and Safety Executive. The report echoes the findings of the latest Markit/CIPS report on construction activity which saw a fall in construction activity, although total activity increased on the back of an increase in housebuilding.

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Whitehall savings boosted by property and procurement efficiencies

The joint Cabinet Office and Treasury initiative the Efficiency and Reform Group has exceeded the Government’s savings target by 25 per cent to make an overall saving of £10 billion, Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude announced today. The savings made include; £1.1 billion made by boosting online services and selling empty buildings and exiting expensive rentals in sought-after locations; £1.7 billion by reviewing large scale projects including construction, and stripping out inefficiencies; and a further £3.8 billion was saved in procurement, by linking together departments to buy goods and services.

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RIBA and CIBSE call for collaboration in CarbonBuzz initiative

RIBA and CIBSE call for pan-industry collaboration in CarbonBuzz initiative

The CarbonBuzz energy benchmarking initiative, backed jointly by the RIBA and CIBSE gets a new online platform next week. The CarbonBuzz project allows users to record, share and compare the real energy use of building projects and to shed light on the differences between predicted and operational performance. Now RIBA and CIBSE are calling on architects and building services engineers to upload their projects to CarbonBuzz and re-energise the industry’s benchmarking database, which was first launched in 2008. Both institutes have spearheaded the publication of energy data in their annual awards schemes and point out that CarbonBuzz is the best way to demonstrate energy credentials. More →

BIFM workplace debate focuses on links between FM and design

Clerkenwell_Design_WeekClerkenwell Design Week was the appropriate setting for the inaugural event staged by the newly formed Workplace Special Interest Group (SIG) of the British Institute of Facilities Management. The event was staged at the showroom of office furniture giant Haworth on the 22 May, during Europe’s largest exhibition of workplace products and services. It saw a panel of industry experts debate in lively fashion the deliberately provocative proposition : Form or Function? Do you need office designers to create a great workplace environment? 

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Shared rather than serviced offices could save businesses thousands

Office genie on savings in sharing office space

London desk renters could save almost £200 a month by choosing a shared office over a serviced office, according to new research. The Office Genie Price Index has revealed that the average desk in a shared office in London costs £335, while a desk in a serviced office was found to cost on average £513 per month; £178 more. This saving of 35 per cent on the price of a serviced desk makes shared offices an affordable alternative in the world’s most expensive city for office rental, where a single square foot of office space in London can cost up to £170.

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UK public sector leading the way in procurement and sustainable building

Nottingham City Council's Loxley Building

Nottingham City Council’s Loxley Building

Over the last few years, the UK Government has grown increasingly interested in finding ways of making its £30 billion property portfolio more efficient. Both the last Labour government and the current Coalition administration have been driven by the opportunities offered them with the advent of new technology, new ways of working and new procurement models. They’ve pursued these issues to cut costs by reducing and changing the way property is designed and managed but have also found how that can also help to establish best practice in sustainable building. What is increasingly apparent, especially given recent news from the Major Projects Authority about cost savings in procurement is that the public sector is now leading the way as models of good practice.

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Crowds brave the grey weather to enjoy Clerkenwell Design Week

Clerkenwell_Design_WeekIn contrast to last year when the sun shone and temperatures were giddily high, Clerkenwell in late May was distinctly chilly, with a constant stiff breeze, on and off rain, and even a hailstorm. The weather may have been unseasonably cold but that didn’t stop the crowds flocking to the most popular venues and showrooms, and several of the evening parties were so crowded they had to close their doors. The signs had been good, even before the show opened. Advance registrations were over 46,000, compared with last year’s 22,000 visitors and by the end of the show, total registrations had reached 55,000.

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Crown Estate in £320m joint venture to redevelop area around Regent Street

St James Market architect's impression-2

The Crown Estate, which manages the Queen’s property portfolio has announced a joint 50/50 – £320 million venture with Canadian real estate company, Oxford Properties. The Crown Estate, which will retain the freehold and take the lead role in the development says the St James’s scheme will provide 210,000 ft2 of prime office and 50,000 ft2 of flagship retail and restaurant space in two blocks located between London’s Regent Street and Haymarket. The project forms part of the Crown Estate’s ten-year investment strategy for St James’s and will transform a run-down back street service yard and taxi ‘rat-run’ with: “a fantastic new amenity for St James’s, revitalising half and acre of public realm and creating a new 10,000 ft2 pedestrian square for world-class business, shopping and dining.” More →

New Centres of Excellence for sustainable building design launched

New Centres of Excellence for sustainable building design launched

Centres of Excellence in Sustainable Building Design are to be set up at four UK universities in collaboration with the Royal Academy of Engineering. The new centres at Heriot-Watt University, Loughborough University, the University of Sheffield and University College London will form a national network to demonstrate and exchange best practice in teaching and research for a more sustainable built environment. The universities will work closely with the construction industry to develop their engineering and architectural design courses to be as relevant as possible to the work students can expect to do when they graduate. Visiting Professors from industry are a key part of this approach and will be heavily involved in developing the new centres of excellence. More →

Fearful UK employees benefit from engagement policies finds survey

 Fearful UK employees require greater engagement levels finds survey

A new study provides some proof that the employee engagement lobby has some validity. According to a new national survey, job stress has gone up and job-related well-being has gone down since the start of the recession, with Britain’s employees feeling more insecure and pressured at work than at any time in the past 20 years. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) report the biggest concern was about pay reductions, followed by loss of say over their job. However, the survey found that where employers pursued employee engagement practices, giving employees more involvement in decision making at work, staff were less anxious about their jobs. More →

Worldwide competition launched by RIBA to design a new Scotland Yard

Courtesy of Simon Heath

Courtesy of Simon Heath

A worldwide competition to design a new Metropolitan Police HQ has been launched by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). The force is moving from its landmark New Scotland Yard site in Westminster, central London as part of cost cutting measures. The project on behalf of the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) and Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) will involve the redevelopment of the existing and currently unoccupied Curtis Green MPS building located on the Victoria Embankment, London, SW1. Roger Harding MPS – Director of Real Estate Development said: “The opportunity to create a modern efficient working environment for the Met’s future headquarters, with world-class architecture that provides value for money and is alive to the history of the building provides a wonderful challenge.” More →

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