Inside The Most-Talked-About New Office Building Of The Decade
Last week one of the most anticipated buildings in London had its official launch a decade after it was conceived.
Derwent London’s 237K SF White Collar Factory in Shoreditch is one of the most important buildings in recent London real estate history. Shoreditch has been a creative hub for more than 30 years, but Derwent’s building made it institutionally acceptable for risk-averse investors to venture into the area, the anticipation of its arrival creating a focal point around which others have gathered.
Companies like Legal & General and Schroders, which would previously have been unlikely to invest north or east of London, are now owners nearby. In the process, the area’s real estate market has been changed forever.
The brand it chose sums up not just the building, but the change that has overcome the area — cool but corporate.
Take a tour of the building.
The stripped-back aesthetic of the building is as much about pragmatism as design.
“[Derwent director] Simon Silver called me in 2008 and said we want to do this building but we’ve got no money,” said AHMM director Simon Allford, the building’s architect. “As always, out of constraint comes creativity.”
The building’s lobby features a café that is available for the public to use and a reception desk that is more like the kind of table you would see in an Apple store.
“We wanted the public to come in and use the building, and for it to have the feel of a club you might use rather than an office,” Derwent development manager Benjamin Lesser said.
When Derwent bought the building, average rents in Shoreditch were less than £30/SF. In 2010, when the White Collar Factory brand was conceived, the record rent for the area was £36/SF. Today the building’s average rent is £62.50/SF and the top rent is £80/SF. Tenants include technology firms like Adobe and box.com but also financial services companies like Capital One.
Outside the building is a public space that will soon feature cafés and restaurants, and already has in place a statue that cheekily mocks the modern Londoner. Called "Connected," it is a 10-foot-high rendering of someone staring at their phone.
Wellness is a watchword at the White Collar Factory. There are plenty of windows to let in natural light that open to let in real air and the building features a 150-metre running track on the roof.