As part of its dedication to giving customers perfect working environments, Workspace trialled a bespoke Soft Landings approach at one of its newest developments, Brickfields in Hoxton. This smoothed the transition from design and construction, through to operational performance for customers. A three-year aftercare process is now set to close the gap between predicted and actual building performance, maximising efficiency, reducing energy costs and cutting carbon.
Increasing collaboration between teams
Actioning improvements before handover
Delivering better buildings for customers
Sharing best practice for future centres
As a leading commercial property company in London, Workspace provides office, studio and industrial space for thousands of businesses in the capital. Brickfields is a new-build business centre that houses 5,000m2 of high specification office space over five floors. The project team included architects Witherford Watson Mann, mechanical and electrical (M&E) contractor Max Fordham and main contractor HG Construction.
Soft Landings is a BSRIA-led building delivery process that runs from inception to completion and beyond, to ensure all decisions are based on improving the building’s operational performance. By using this process to increase collaboration between the design, construction and facilities management teams, Workspace aimed to:
Engaging closely with Workspace, Max Fordham took the Soft Landings Framework BG 54 and tailored it. This bespoke framework separates the process into five phases: pre-handover, first six months post-handover, first year, first two years and first three years. It then details actions for each phase, outlining the scope of assessments and identifying an initiator and participants for every action.
Workspace’s Development Manager advocated the Soft Landings process to the whole project team, showing senior support. Requirements were then written into the project specification and contracts. This meant the main contractor and subcontractors allowed time for their teams to attend Soft Landings meetings and site visits.
The process involved:
Workspace and its design and construction partners are already putting the lessons learnt at Brickfields into practice in other new centres, from tighter noise specifications for air conditioning units to zoned lighting systems. Workspace is also looking at rolling out its tailored Soft Landings framework to other projects.
Soft Landings represented around 4% of project costs and delivered an improved working environment for customers. The building will also be easier and more efficient to operate, generating ongoing savings for energy in particular. In addition, there were time savings during commissioning and handover, as the FM team was already familiar with building systems.
Increased collaboration between the design, construction and FM teams led to a building that performs better:
The aftercare process over the first three years should also close any gap between predicted and actual building performance, maximising efficiency, reducing energy costs and cutting carbon emissions.
Peter Creaney of Max Fordham: “The more contact you have with people who interact with the things you design, the better. At Brickfields, we spoke to a number of occupiers about how they interact with the building, which was very useful. As designers, we think a lot about all the possible permutations and then, of course, the first person you speak to has a new one! With a repeat client like Workspace, you can use that feedback straightaway to improve the next centre, which is invaluable, giving the client a better building for their customers. We would advocate Soft Landings or a similar collaborative approach on every project.
How to move people from a contractual mindset to a collaborative approach?
For team members who have not been involved in Soft Landings before, it can take time to understand that the process is totally different to the usual ‘defects’ approach at handover. Whereas defects meetings only look at what is not delivered to the specification, Soft Landings is a collaborative approach to make a building work better for customers and FM teams. It is important that it’s not seen as a mechanism for clients to change their mind and load extra expenses onto contractors. This is not the case, as any changes beyond the specification can be treated as costed variations. For instance, at Brickfields, the FM team highlighted that the roof access hatch was difficult to open from the top of a ladder and that adjustments to the structure would make this much easier. The contractor was then able to action this costed variation while still working on the project. This would not have been picked up through the usual defects approach and, after handover, it would have been a much more expensive job. The design partner also noted it for future projects. Max Fordham led the Soft Landings meetings for Workspace, with their specification knowledge proving useful in classifying actions as either related to the current contract or variations.
Alia Hashem of Workspace
“The whole project team worked collaboratively to trial our bespoke Soft Landings framework at Brickfields in Hoxton. The result is a great working environment for customers and an operationally efficient building. We are already incorporating lessons learnt at Brickfields into the design of other centres.”