By Mark Dawes, Managing Director, CAD Architects.
In the current economic climate, commercial property will continue to yield higher value returns than many other forms of assets. However, to take full advantage of this, the commercial architect needs to have a thorough grounding in the commercial realities of your business and the way in which you plan to generate additional turnover and profit from any new development.
At the heart of this process is having clarity about the functionality of the new development and how it will deliver an enhanced experience for the end-users or customers of the building. Commercial architects should be willing to immerse themselves in your business so that they understand the way in which you and your stakeholders think and the vision that you have for your business. Only then can they start using their design skills to bring this into reality.
This requires an open and frank dialogue at the pre-design stage. Commercial building design is focused on return on investment, and your brief to your architect should detail the key factors that will drive ROI for that project. The architect can then show you options for the design and explain how they will deliver against your ROI objectives. This kind of collaborative process between client and architect is vital to the way CAD Architects approach any commercial architecture project.
A good illustration of this principle in action is a building design project that we carried out on behalf of The Polurrian Bay Hotel, which sits in a beautiful cliff-top setting at Mullion, on The Lizard. The owner had long held a dream of creating a new restaurant and bar which would make the most of the stunning views over the bay, which are among the best in Cornwall.
Increasingly, the tourism and leisure industry are selling ‘experiences’ rather than simply facilities. It is vital that the tourism architect or leisure architect understands how building design can contribute to the overall customer experience.
Before we could begin formulating building design ideas, we had to develop a detailed knowledge of the way that the business currently operated, the type of customers it wanted to attract in the future and the kind of customer experience that would create profitable repeat business. From this we could understand the many goals that this new space had to fulfil:
- It had to be in sympathy with the existing building and amplify the hotel’s positioning as a luxury venue;
- It had to provide a stylish, family-friendly environment in which to dine;
- It would be a flexible lounge area during the day (which would also be pet-friendly);
- It had to serve as a memorable venue for weddings and the other special celebrations that would form an important revenue stream for the hotel.
All of the above were crucial to the hotel’s business plan. So, at the pre-design and concept stage we were able to put forward ideas that not only worked well from a design and structural standpoint, but could also help deliver an exceptional experience for the hotel’s customers and drive incremental revenue.
At the Polurrian Bay Hotel, we created a spectacular, sunlit extension of 250 square metres, arranged on two levels, with vast floor to ceiling windows that gave far-reaching views out over the Atlantic. For us as commercial architects, building such a heavily glazed structure demanded meticulous planning and management, but having a clear shared vision with the client gave great momentum to the project, which was completed on time and within budget.
This exciting new space, named the Vista Lounge, has now become a key selling point of the hotel, and it is the most talked about feature by customers. Commercial architecture has successfully transformed people’s experience of the hotel. The following visitor comment is typical and demonstrates what a lucrative asset the Vista Lounge has now become:
“As soon as you walk in, the view out to sea from the Vista Lounge blows you away.”
This is a great example of what can be achieved when you choose a commercial architect that can genuinely share your vision for your business and is passionate about great building design, while also having a deep understanding of how the finished design will add real value to your business.