Smooth Moves at 4 Kingdom Street

By Tim Haddon
Asset Manager at British Land

06 Dec 2016

On the lookout for opportunities to make the handover for occupiers moving into new buildings even smoother, we’re piloting Soft Landings at 4 Kingdom Street, Paddington Central.

When surveyed, our customers consistently say that British Land does a great job of delivering high quality buildings and outstanding service. But we always want to improve and innovate to create an even better experience for the people who work, shop and live in our places.

So, when we heard about Soft Landings, a BSRIA-led process designed to help the construction industry and its clients deliver better buildings, we were keen to trial it. To date, the process has mainly been used by owner occupiers who have a direct interest in smoothing the handover as they’ll be moving into the completed buildings. We decided to test its potential for occupiers moving into speculative schemes, piloting it at 4 Kingdom Street.

The process is working well and we’ll be taking lessons on to other projects, creating Places People Prefer.

What is Soft Landings?

As anyone who’s ever moved into a new-build home knows, sometimes there can be teething issues in the early days, things simply not working or looking quite like you expected. When it comes to major commercial schemes with complex heating, cooling and ventilation systems, there can also be issues as systems bed down – something we’ve always worked hard to minimise and Soft Landings is one of the initiatives that can help.

At its heart, Soft Landings is a collaborative approach that creates more overlap between the teams who design and construct a new building, and the organisations which occupy and operate it after completion. Everybody gets together throughout the project, with the common goal of smoothing the handover and delivering a building that works as well as possible for occupiers.

4 Kingdom Street is a 147,000 sq ft office building spread over nine floors.

How we’re creating smooth moves at 4 Kingdom Street

  • Appointing a Soft Landings Champion from the outset. Their focus is on making the building work well for occupiers, whether it is checking that cost efficiency changes won’t affect the experience for employees working in the finished building, or flagging changes in potential occupiers’ needs as the project progresses. This input can be particularly beneficial on speculative schemes, where occupiers aren’t there to provide their views until later.
  • Getting input from the team who’ll be running the building, during the planning and commissioning phases. At 4 Kingdom Street, we involved the Facilities Manager early on. Now we’re approaching commissioning, we’re also appointing a resident Engineer on the site. Post completion, they’ll be part of the building team, with their early involvement not only resulting in the system being better set up, but also ensuring they have a good understanding of how to operate it.
  • Extending the role of the project team beyond the typical 12-month defect rectification period. At 4 Kingdom Street, they’ll be involved for up to three years after completion. This is encouraging them to really think about how they can make the building work well for occupiers. It also means they’ll be on hand to provide support during occupier fit-outs.
  • Supporting occupiers and their fit-out teams, including managing overlap between occupier fit-outs and completion of any base-build works. The Soft Landings team will also provide training and guides to occupiers, so they can run their areas for both wellbeing and efficiency.
  • Carrying out post occupancy evaluations that we’ll share with the design team, main contractor and project team. Insights from occupier surveys and energy monitoring will help the building team fine-tune settings for optimal performance and occupant comfort. They could also inform what happens on future projects, helping deliver better buildings.

Optimising energy efficiency

A particular issue with which Soft Landings can help is bridging the performance gap between what a building’s designed to achieve in terms of energy efficiency and what it actually delivers in operation. In some buildings this gap can be due to inaccurate modelling at design stage, but in our buildings we’ve already worked to improve that using CIBSE TM54 (more here). 

The gap can also be caused by a building not being commissioned appropriately for future occupiers or by the building team struggling to understand complex systems and resorting to default settings. This is where Soft Landings can be beneficial. By involving the building team during the commissioning stage, controls are well set up for operation and the team has a good understanding of how to run everything. 

4 Kingdom Street is designed to accommodate the latest working trends, with private corner terraces and a roof terrace for access to plenty of outside space.

This should help the team deliver the right lighting levels, temperatures and air quality for occupiers from day one, all while using as little energy as possible and so keeping occupiers’ energy bills down.

We’re looking forward to 4 Kingdom Street achieving practical completion next Spring and then to occupiers starting to move into their exciting new space.

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