For decades science and technology companies have been subjected to the dreary anonymity of out of town business parks. The requirements of the buildings they occupy have forced companies to locate in places that offer the right types of space, access and logistics, but nothing in terms of vibrancy, wellbeing or amenity.
The tide is turning. Occupiers are demanding so much more out of their workplace. At the GSK site in Stevenage we’re developing a masterplan that puts community and carbon ahead of cars and convenience. Buildings are organised around fantastic outdoors spaces. Amenity has been prioritised and located to maximise the benefits of clustering. Cars have been moved to the perimeter to prioritise the movement of people.
So whilst it is still an out of town location – with all of the benefits of transport connections and space for large technical buildings – it feels much more like it’s part of a city.
At Oxpens this idea of science in the city is taken one step further. We’ve developed a masterplan that supports a new mixed-use quarter for Oxford. Spaces for science and technology are cheek by jowl with homes and spaces for business and entertainment. The large format floor plans that we know can support laboratories efficiently and flexibly, have been designed into the masterplan in a way that retains human scaled external spaces. It’s an exemplar of how science can exist alongside other uses, creating vibrancy and diversity within a new quarter of the city.
This trend from business parks, to campus-plus, to city quarter is set to continue with huge benefits for the occupiers and communities that form around these clusters.