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News: 12 July 2023

Our Engineer Pitch with Hub and Archiboo

Director Susan Mantle took part in this year’s Engineer pitch with Developer Hub, organised by Archiboo and ING Media, where HTS’s structural playbook was introduced, an idea to transform unwanted office sites across the UK into high quality residential space.

We looked at Hub's venture, HubCap’s aspirations of Lifestyle Cities; key locations close to transport hubs that contain unwanted sites distributed throughout.

We know there are opportunities to convert office to residential throughout existing workplace stock, but we posed the question of how do we effectively and efficiently identify the best buildings, that would otherwise be demolished?

That’s where our concept of a structural playbook comes in; a way to select and analyse the best existing sites and their structural efficiency at a very early stage to maximise potential for retrofit.

First the potential site must go through a series of parameters which form a template for a structurally efficient building to be eligible for conversion; this includes the materiality, the size, the location and orientation, the heights throughout and loading capabilities. A series of simple questions outlining the existing building’s physical properties refine the number of buildings worth considering further, to save time, cost, and carbon.

By homing in on the most suitable existing office sites, the feasibility design is then concentrated on the highest opportunity sites.

We have used this approach on some of our own historic redevelopment projects, including The Standard and Grange St Martins with Orms architects and are applying this on many of our ongoing retrofit projects.

We think it’s a great tool to identify the correct sites for clients and developers, to make the retrofit process more efficient and to make better use of existing building stock earlier on in the design process. An estimate of 20% of City of London offices exist as stranded assets and this approach poses a solution for buildings that would otherwise be demolished.

We’d like to also thank the team at Morris & Company architects for being advisors in the process leading up to the pitch and to our 6 fellow pitchers: Civic Engineers, London Structures Lab, Morph Structures, Simple Works, Symmetrys and Webb Yates for their great ideas. Well done to Laura Hannigan from Simple Works who won the pitch.

Image credit: Heyne Tillett Steel and HUB/ING Media

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