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Colette O’Shea: ‘London sets the standard’

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Colette O’Shea, who this week begins her new role as managing director of Land Securities’ London portfolio, on the changing office market

Which architects do you admire for office design?
I admire the consistency of Fletcher Priest Architects. I also admire Debra Leman Smith’s work at One New Change by Jean Nouvel and 62 Buckingham Gate by Pelli Clarke Pelli, along with the great designs MoreySmith has been creating. 

What trends are you expecting to see in work culture and how might they affect office design?
The British Council for Offices (BCO) Challenges for the Office Sector report found that only 2 per cent of the UK workforce works from home permanently. But with trends such as ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) and cloud computing becoming the norm, businesses are often able to occupy much smaller floor spaces. Architects and developers can consider turning a range of spaces into offices that would not previously have been suitable.

Do you have any evidence that a well-designed office improves productivity?
Yes, the BCO’s report What Workers Want found that getting the basics right is most important, and can boost productivity. Land Securities’ Zig Zag Building by Patrick Lynch is a great example.

Do you think Display Energy Certificates (DECs) should be compulsory in all commercial buildings; private and public?
Land Securities would support a compulsory requirement to have DECs on view in both public and private non-domestic buildings as a way of raising awareness and driving behaviour change. Experience in the public sector – where DEC have been a mandatory since October 2008 – has shown that it stimulates interest in the building’s energy use and encourages the building owners, its management teams and occupiers to work together to reduce energy consumption.

Is the London market for new-build offices saturated for all but elite developers?
London sets the standard for architectural vibrancy. A large part of that is down to the diverse mix of developers and architects. The market is in an exciting phase, with huge opportunity and a context which calls for innovation.

Will retrofit ever have the same kudos as a new-build in the centre of town?
Architects and developers need to consider whether a refitted office can meet the needs of its occupier, and respond to the lifestyle of the employees. Aukett Swanke’s 123 Victoria Street that has done just that. Careful reglazing, new entrances, reworked cores and elegant interiors have created a highly attractive offering on a prime Westminster street.

  • Colette O’Shea is chairing this year’s BCO conference in Birmingham (14-16 May). Buy tickets at: www.bco.org.uk/Conference
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