Perth’s latest large-scale office building boom could spell the end of slim-line office towers, as developers capitalise on the last remaining large lots in the CBD by designing towers which are wider and more efficient than any stock built in the city be
Perth’s latest large-scale office building boom could spell the end of slim-line office towers, as developers capitalise on the last remaining large lots in the CBD by designing towers which are wider and more efficient than any stock built in the city before.
It is not just developers who are driving this new built form, but tenants who, for the first time, have the opportunity to secure large floor plates in the vicinity of 2,000 square metres, allowing them to fit more employees on fewer floors using open plan configurations.
BankWest was the largest organisation to jump on the new trend, signing on last October to lease 42,500sq m at the proposed Raine Square office tower.
Helping to seal the deal was the building’s 2,000sq m floor plates over 21 levels, which will allow the bank’s 3,300 staff to work in one location.
Other developers planning larger floors include Hawaiian and Multiplex at Bishops See, which has 2,000sq m floor plates in both 27 storey and nine storey buildings, the smaller to be anchored by KPMG.
Joint venture partners Industry Superannuation Property Trust and Axiom Properties are building floors of almost 1,800sq m over their 22-storey Century City office project, recently signing oil and gas explorer INPEX to the top four floors.
Reportedly topping them all is Mirvac, which is understood to be creating floors of up to 2,500sq m for client UnitingCare West as part of the Wesley Arcade and former QBE building redevelopments.
Swale Hynes Consulting director Digby Hynes said the call for larger floor plates was a case of businesses expanding and wanting greater efficiency over fewer floors.
Mr Hynes said ten years ago, it was rare to see floor plates of over 1,000 square metres in Perth because companies were smaller, and had fewer departments.
“In 1986, when I arrived in Perth, the largest tenant in those days was WA Petroleum which had around 10,000sq m of space, over a lot of floors. Suddenly, 20 years later your average tenant is in the 8,000sq m to 15,000sq m bracket and wants larger floors over fewer levels.”
Fewer floors also meant fewer breakout areas, photocopiers and printers, representing a significant saving to the tenant, he said.
Multiplex Developments director Jeff Holloway said increasing the floor to wall ratio also represented a small saving to developers, but presented new challenges including the provision of natural light into the core of the building.
“There is not a lot of demand in Perth for plates above 2,000sq m. We’re finding that if we keep to plates of between 1,600sq m and 2,000sq m, we give proper consideration to most tenants,” he said.
Some in the property industry were starting to question the efficiency of floor plates above 2,000sq m in size, he said.
Multiplex is in the advanced stages of designing a new office tower for Perth’s biggest hole in the ground, Westralia Square. The tower would likely comprise 60,00sq m of office space on plates of up to 2,000sq m, in addition to 12,000sq m of retail.
Hawaiian general manager property development Stuart Duplock said tenants were seeking column-free space and open plan lay-outs in order to fit more people on one floor and improve efficiencies.
Tenants were also limiting enclosed and perimeter offices to allow light to penetrate into the core of the building, he said.
“Tenants are using these buildings as a tool. By getting more people on one floor they can improve communication. It’s a big cost issue ultimately.