Placemaking: Real Estate Projects

Office buildings more frequently open up to inhabitants these days. Why? What is needed to create a place that attracts people? Jan Jakub Zombirt, Associate Director, Strategic Consulting, JLL, talks about placemaking in real estate projects.
Jan Jakub Zombirt, Associate Director, Strategic Consulting, JLL
Jan Jakub Zombirt, Associate Director, Strategic Consulting, JLL

Placemaking is considered a relatively new phenomenon in Poland. Is it true?

Indeed. New attractive public spaces executed within commercial projects may be considered a relatively new trend on the Polish market, which can be seen on the example of the office sector. In spite of the fact that modern office buildings in Poland erected later than their Western European counterparts, they were mainly designed in such a way to maximize office space at the cost of other facilities. This approach was common in the 90-ties and at the beginning of the 21st century. The investment such as Warsaw Metropolitan is one of the rare exceptions. Nowadays, this peculiar approach is redefined in greater measure. The percentage of commercial and service spaces in office buildings erected in the years 1995-2005 amounted to ca. 10%, whereas the investments built after 2005 are characterized by the rate at the level of 15%.

What is the role of public spaces?

The role of public spaces may be considered in two ways; from the point of view of the needs expressed by both the city and the local communities as well as from the point of view of the requirements for employers set by the labor market. Taking the first aspect into consideration, public space is supposed to revitalize concrete fragments of the city, integrate people and create places where they can spend free time in a pleasurable and attractive way. The second aspect is related to the necessity of meeting new expectations raised by tenants. The struggle for talents is becoming fiercer and companies are pressured into taking new actions in order to hire the best candidates. Today’s employees have higher expectations concerning work places and their additional benefits. Working in a visually attractive part of the city with the access to a rich service and entrainment offer as well as well-designed surroundings, which is often underlined in social media, is one of the soft factors which are gaining in importance, especially for the so called Millennials. Buildings that offer this additional value to the wider public usually enjoy a good reputation as investments that favor work comfort and that are open to the local community. Thereby, they’re perceived as good work places, which, in consequence, have an impact on location decisions made by companies.

What factors are taken into consideration by planners who create public spaces?

The most important element is to meet a target group of given space halfway, meaning people who will benefit from it every day. However, we may assume that the common elements of any placemaking project are interactions and the way this project animates their users.

May commercial buildings offer attractive public spaces?

Yes, they may and even should offer attractive public spaces. Buildings create a city fabric and thus their contribution to the surrounding space should be positive by definition. Commercial projects, especially the ones that perform office and commercial functions, create a society around them together with their closest surroundings and build a brand of an attractive meeting place. In the case of the commercial market, it’s a result of changing needs of consumers who expect positive experiences from such centers as shopping has ceased to be a goal itself. In the case of office buildings, it’s an effect of the already mentioned changes on the labor market. Today, office is an important tool of employer branding, which very often decides whether a given candidate accepts a job offer or not. Thereby, developers attach greater importance to creation of attractive spaces around their investments.


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