We looked at the business setup, handled the spatial analysis and calculated 650sqm was the magic number including circulation space and some contingency. Which was confirmed with a generic test-fit.
We then allowed 650 up to 750 square metres in the search brief because it is rare to find the exact area required, and also needed tolerance for base-building (in)efficiencies.
Early on a 700 square metre property was submitted that ticked all the boxes – was refurbished and had strong natural light, realistic rental and incentives, new landscaping, passing traffic for signage, good parking ratio and the client loved the St Kilda location. The property was placed high on short-list and seemed perfect…
However, during the site visit we noticed the pillars were on the larger side and also positioned awkwardly close to the central core services.
Wanting to investigate further, we transposed the test-fit to the building’s layout and discovered the client wouldn’t fit.
How could 650 square metres be plenty in other properties, but this building didn't work? Curious, we looked a little closer.
For compliance and comfortable use, the design needed upwards of 1000mm wide corridors, but the passage between the core and the pillars was 850mm. This then forced a 1000mm corridor to be allowed for on the other side creating a double width passage with pillars in the middle.
Not ideal, but for the right building we could have designed around that. The façade had an appealing central atrium and staircase – this created two corner feature pockets filled with light and views which were beautiful but reduced the efficiency. Finally two sets of egress stairs to the rear needed access and further ate into the footprint.
On paper there was more than enough space but the end result was our client didn’t fit.
The St Kilda building had an extra floor above but the client would need to take at least 30% more space, significantly increasing their leasing costs and becoming split over two levels - all because the building was not efficient. As a result we moved on to other short-listed options.
So what did we learn?
Previously we always ran spatial analysis, but didn’t conduct a test-fit for each short-listed property until later in the negotiations. From this experience our recommendations when searching for a new space are:
1. Question the status quo
- Consider design trends and accommodation needs early on.
- Form a robust, yet conservative spatial analysis.
Clients often start out wanting to replicate their existing amount of square metres, but trends change and so do organisational structures. Work out high level accommodation needs, spatial analysis and back this up with a test-fit.
2. Allow contingency
- Allow 10-30% tolerance for area required in the search brief.
- Consider circulation space.
Prioritise the buildings with efficient footprints.
Extra space = extra costs x length of lease.
- Be thorough in your due-diligence
- Bring the test-fit forwards, so it is handled early for strong short-listed options.
- Research and investigate the likely space.