Since the onset of the pandemic, owners of commercial property have been left wondering what impact this may have on their assets. There’s good news: commercial buildings that not only provide workspaces but also offer community benefit will be sustainable.
This idea of buildings and spaces engaging with the wider community isn’t new; however, it’s become increasingly important under current circumstances.
Placemaking in office buildings and public spaces
It is no longer common for office buildings to be blank boxes into which workers disappear at 8.30 am and reappear at 5.30 pm. Foyers can be generous spaces that house cafés or bars and can double as function spaces. Outdoor areas can be landscaped and repurposed so they offer our office workers and even the wider community benefits such as shade and seating.
Placemaking means an office block changes from simply a location from which people conduct business, into a community environment that allows people to thrive. A recent survey of Millennial workers revealed an increased focus on green open spaces and workplace wellness. Office building owners and organisations would do well to heed the appeals of this group, who are the cohort more reluctant to return to the office full-time.
Examples of office buildings as local hubs are increasingly common in our capital cities and larger regional centres. In many areas across Australia, place-making is a deliberate strategy that unites government and the private sector to create liveable and sustainable communities. New precinct models include Special Activation Precincts, Regional Job Precincts and State Significant Precincts.
In South Australia, Renewal SA focuses on a ‘people-centred approach to developing public and non-public spaces. It is about discovering the needs and aspirations of those who live, work and play in a particular place and creating a common vision for it.’
In Sydney, Darling Park Towers was an early office building complex created to fully embrace a sense of place. The towers boast concierge services, cafés at foyer level, access to a 300-sqm roof garden and an entertainment district at the doorstep. This example has since been replicated in office stock across Australia.
Festival Plaza in Adelaide has been reimagined, with more shade, curated activities, large areas of lawn and event-ready space.
Placemaking in Mount Gambier
In Mount Gambier, the historic buildings of The Mills precinct are being revitalised with under-cover seating, better accessibility and connections through to the Hedley Street car park. Above all, the precinct intention is to activate office and retail and support tenants through increased traffic and activity.
And with the former WIN TV station currently being leased, we expect to see offerings such as a café at ground floor level that will be available not only to office workers in the building but also the public. Alternatively, we expect to see a shared production and arts hub facility.
The key to effective placemaking
While much placemaking relies on infrastructure to make it work, smaller communities across the world are embracing placemaking through innovative and less expensive options, from street parties to small-scale movie screenings. Key to the ultimate benefits of placemaking is activation from social infrastructure and that means making people – both the tenant community and the broader local community – feel welcome with interactive spaces, generous public green spaces, art, seating and curated events.
City of Mount Gambier guiding principles for the CBD include fostering a sense of community through encouraging community participation. The city looks to create year-round activation of places to ensure the CBD precincts are vibrant, safe places to visit.
What could you do to create a sense of place?
Can we help with your Mount Gambier commercial property?
Call Herbert Commercial on 08 87 250 500 for a complimentary annual investment portfolio assessment. From this assessment, feedback may warrant the need to seek Herbert Commercial’s advice and expertise with formulating a plan to action restructuring or renegotiating the best lease scenario moving forward. We’re here to help.
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