Maximising Development at MIRA Technology Park
MAXIMISING DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES THROUGH THE CLIENT: ARCHITECT RELATIONSHIP.
The first time I visited MIRA I was blown away by the potential. Already a global player they recognised that their current building stock was restricting their ability to expand further, physically inhibiting their ability to work closely with some customers.
With aspirations of a major technology park, MIRA brought in a development advisor, John Shaw, who I had previously worked with on a number of other major destination projects, over many years.
With John, George Gillespie, MIRA’S CEO and his colleagues at MIRA, the Geddes team worked through every aspect of MIRA’s vision. MIRA is an exceptional client, with a thorough understanding of their business and industry they have robust and justified requirements as well as tangible ideas and contributions.
Our role is that of the creative, asking probing questions, testing the vision and considering different scenarios. We systematically gathered information and studied every aspect of the plan, to move the process forward. We took each element to the edge of possibility whilst still ensuring buildability.
That initial strategic group quickly welcomed new members who bought into ‘the vision’. It was important that our ideas at this stage were being practically put to the test. High on the agenda was the traffic implications and ability to unlock the site and its natural environment. Collectively we determined the site constraints and potential measured against cost and viability.
We continue to present new design manifestations, the masterplan isn’t set in stone, it continues to evolve. Changes in tenant interest and funding can all impact on the plan. We have to be flexible and adapt to that, always looking ahead to keep the process moving.
Whilst the contractor (Deeley Construction) joined through competitive tender, they soon became fully integrated and now work in partnership with the rest of the team; this has worked well in terms of design and construction delivery. Post recession the market remains under pressure, however working closely with the contractor means we can design in more cost effective materials and allow for pre-ordering to keep the whole process on time and on budget.
We are now seeing increased public investment in the Science and Technology sector, funding infrastructure upgrade and enabling works. This, coupled with commercial real estate management and property expertise, can be crucial to unlocking the potential of the park and realising the vision.
Many park developers are modifying their approach to tenants, no longer talking about the basics of office space but instead they refer to quality of life, environment, facilities, collaboration and inspiration. Physically they have started to fill in the gaps, creating greater density on site and a wider range of facilities. Moving on from a series of buildings and car parks to provide more of a 24/7 feel competing with the attraction of working in an urban environment. Some are now introducing residential property in different forms, beyond the hotel offering. Where planning and funding allows we are looking at solutions integrating post graduate accommodation, to support the transition from study to commercial research and start-up.
Looking ahead at MIRA we already have more projects in the immediate future, some reusing and updating existing buildings, others providing improved facilities across the park. We are now well underway with the implementation of the masterplan and have a clear road ahead with the achievement of the MIRA Technology Park vision.