After COVID-19, the world will never be the same again. From now on, health comes first. But how do you create offices that are healthy,productive and safe work enviornments.BNP Paribas Real Estate Advisor Estate, design agency MMEK and real estate developer G&S Vastgoed are combining their knowledge in the REDEFINE Real Estate platform. REDEFINE Real Estate is a closed user platform that continues to develop, from which everyone can draw and contribute. The founding fathers have their say.
The establishment of REDEFINE Real Estate started with COVID-19, but the virus was only the cause’. That’s what Alexander Ververgaert, COO of BNP Paribas Real Estate in the Netherlands, says. Together with Martijn Meeske, founder of design agency MMEK, he stood at the foundation of this knowledge platform. Ververgaert: Wellbeing has been part of our office use for some time now, but COVID-19 is forcing us to redefine the concepts of ‘healthy’ and ‘safe’ office maintenance. In the meantime we have seen that social distancing also has an impact on our productivity. Meeske: ‘Social distancing is a good first step towards a healthy and safe environment, but building technology must also be included in this. In addition, well-being in the office is also determined by the extent to which the user experience is influenced. In order to gain as much insight as possible into this, MMEK has conducted scientific research and also consulted with universities. Meeske: ‘We’re not only talking about virus experts and medical disciplines, but also about psychology, for example. We want to see questions like ‘what does green do with people? It turns out that many people are already working on this health theme, but there is a lack of combination of knowledge. With REDEFINE Real Estate we do this and follow a more holistic approach.
The world after COVID-19
For BNP Paribas Real Estate, MMEK and G&S Vastgoed it is clear that there will be a world before and a world after COVID-19. Jason Blackmore, Managing Director of G&S Vastgoed: ‘Employees are facing the facts, and will demand a safe working environment from their empoyer, this will continue after COVID-19. But in many office buildings this is not the case yet. In addition, the existing office environments do not provide the opportunity to work together in a productive way. This is a lesson COVID-19 has thaught us, now we have to to something with it. Therefore G&S Vastgoed is launching customer of REDEFINE Real Estate Where advice of the knowledge platform is applied in the offices of Wonderwoods,, the multifunctional, green towers that are being developed at Utrecht Central Station. When REDEFINE Real Estate Crossed our path, the Wonderwoods drawings were actually finished. However we went back to the drawing board to modify them,’ says developer Mischa Moritz of G&S Vastgoed. For instance, we have changed elevators, routing and interfaces.
Don’t these kinds of adjustments make buildings priceless? Blackmore: ‘I think that from now on office users will always opt for the healthiest building. Companies that compete to attract employees will have to anticipate this. That will indeed require extra investment. However, these extra investments also mean that more people can work on fewer square meters, which means that less space is needed’. Sicco Posthumus, CEO BNP Paribas Netherlands, adds: ‘A building can easily stand for 50 years. But the installations in it age within 15 years, making the building less usable and decreasing in value. If we can make the installation spaces more flexible, making the building usable for much longer, then the initial investments can be easily recouped’. Posthumus continues: ‘ Most importantly, an employee who feels comfortable is much more productive. And that’s the most important driver of a company’s profits’.
This brings the story back to the keyword of REDEFINE Real Estate, the user. Erik van Kuijk, co-founder of MMEK, goes deeper into this: ‘Every user is different and will fill spaces differently because he uses them differently, partly depending on the (company) culture. This means that the design must be adaptable per user, flexible. REDEFINE Real Estate is therefore not a fixed list that is ticked off’. Van Kuijk emphasizes: ‘If there’s one thing we’ve learned in this COVID-19 crisis, it’s that behaviour that stems from our culture is extremely difficult to change. A meter and a half distance just doesn’t suit us. But we know that if you bury it in a spatial design, the problem of ‘misuse’ of a space can be reduced.
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KNOWLEDGE PLATFORM FOR HEALTHY REAL ESTATE
REDEFINE Real Estate is a knowledge platform. The platform was founded by real estate consultant BNP Paribas Real Estate , design agency MMEK and real estate developer G&S Vastgoed. G&S Vastgoed is the Utrecht-based multi-functional project Wonderwoods launching customer where the advice of the knowledge platform is applied. The founding fathers are now in talks with internationally operating engineering firm Arcadis to broaden the knowledge platform even further. REDEFINE Real Estate is not an institute that issues certifications. The long-term goal of creating healthy, productive and safe buildings is paramount. The way in which that goal is achieved is flexible: after all, users are all different, techniques are getting better and knowledge is constantly increasing.
REDEFINE Real Estate is a closed user platfrom in which complementary companies with a proved track record contribute by making use of knowledge and expertise in the field of healthy, safe and productive work enviornments.
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