Re: Re: DDDA / Docklands Miscellany

Home Forums Ireland DDDA / Docklands Miscellany Re: Re: DDDA / Docklands Miscellany


For those of you hoping to update your knowledge on modern office development, I decided to write the following. For those of you in the public service, you might want to avail of this opportunity to learn something.

We are competing on a global scale with places in Europe, America and Asia. Countries who understand and operate in the 21st century. Not to mention the dozens of emerging economies like our own. If the Irish collective, including McNamara, Dunne, Carroll, DDDA and DCC could learn to cooperate rather than blow each other out of the water, the Docklands might realise some of its potential. The Dublin Airport Authority, formally Aer Rianta was dragged into the 21st century by visionaries like Michael O’Leary. Who could see the potential of Dublin as a destination. (Even still, the Greens are in denial over the fact Dublin is now a 35 million/year passenger airport) The developer Liam Carroll is having a harder job dragging our DDDA and DCC into the present day. International organisations routinely look for office space as large as 150,000 sq. feet in Ireland. That is not unusual by todays standards. We are unable to anwser such requests because the size of our developments are too small. It is the same in Logistics, the size of warehouse we use to operate in this country is many times too small. Ironically, one of the few sites which got the scale correct, was in the backwater city of Limerick. Where Dell computers have over 10 years of successful operation from the same campus.

If you look at the opposite end of the Tallaght/City Centre LUAS line, Carroll has over a thousand residential units ready for occupation. If DCC/DDDA would allow sufficient workspace to happen in the docklands, instead of blocking it, we would see a situation where white collar workers commuted each day from Tallaght to the docklands. Imagine the kind of change that would make to a place like Tallaght? Having financial services workers living in the area. It seemed intelligent to me, to piggyback the publically paid LUAS project with new innovative ways of working and living. I mean, if we were afraid of this innovation why did we build the LUAS in the first place? I was personally engaged with Carroll in efforts to provide enhanced service concepts, as a part of the workspace rollout program in the Dublin Docklands. Using a a model like that developed by Regus and Siemens in Europe. Sadly, I won’t see the completion of this project now.

Taken from Wikipedia Page on Regus: In 1989 while on a business trip to Brussels, a British entrepreneur, Mark Dixon, noted the lack of office space available to travelling business people; they were often forced to work from hotels. He identified a need for office space that was maintained, staffed, and available for companies to use on a flexible basis and went on to found his first business center in Brussels in Belgium.

Here is a link to a modern development in Vienna, Austria.

And another in Malaysia, the Kuala Lumpur Petronas Towers.

Taken from Office Buildings: A Design Manual by Rainer Hascher: The landlords of the Twin Towers supply tenants with a wide range of services that they can use before, during and after moving in. These services range from planning support for moving preparations to the supply of routine operational services. Facilities that can be used in common, event venues and high-tech facilities optimise business processes and promote tenants’ identification with the site. The Regus Group offers short-term tenancies of small amounts of space and thereby contributes to the flexibility of existing tenants and encourages potential tenants to establish themselves on the site.

Carroll is one of the few developers, that Ireland has, capable of acting on such an idea. Part of his concept was to provide fully furnished apartments in the docklands area. And so he did. So that business executives thinking of setting up in Ireland, could work out of their own apartment for the duration of the start up. Whilst, paperwork and documentation was being organised for their new branch company. Many Irish business people working in Eastern Europe now, will vouch for the difficulty of ‘setting up base’ in countries like Poland and others. For the initial stages, a small team based in the country using laptops and a pre-furnished apartment is all that is needed.

Taken from the web site of the Irish branch of Regus. The following services are available to you when using any of our Office options.

The world of work is becoming more dynamic. Our products and services are diverse enough to support you however you work. At home, on the move and in the office.

With a virtual office from Regus, your business will benefit from the presence of a high-profile office at a fraction of the cost of a traditional office.

You get the picture. Office space in 2008, is a broad spectrum of services, from the ‘virtual office’ right up to the 500,000 sq foot building. It is a pity I will not get a chance to build this new economy now in Ireland. Since the DDDA saw it fit, to remove the underlying player who could bring most of that vision to fruition. Its a bit like a parent killing its own child.

It is also obvious that the bundling of the purchasing of goods and services for a single site will generate synergetic effects for the occupants. They can benefit from a small cost premium per square meter for office and telephone services without the overheads involved while still retaining flexibility.

Given the sorry state of our comms utilities (I personally have had to deal with this situation), looking for value for money in IT infrastructure makes sound sense to me. It would be unwise for any prospective business to build bespoke office accomodation in Ireland. We have seen the folly of this exercise many times before in examples like Seagate etc. Successive Irish governments have been suckers for repeating the same blunders. Instead of the IDA providing inflexible exhibition buildings in the middle of Tipperary, with a life cycle of 2 years. It makes sense to embrace flexibility, and allow a private developer take on the risk at a central location such as North Wall Quay.

The property can and should support the organisational, spatial and temporal flexibility of the enterprise. In the past, added-value services were seldom offered, because they were not sought after. The Regus Group demonstrates how office space can be successfully marketed with full service.

The major problem facing Ireland, is that whenever a private sector innovation is underway, the public sector feel they are being cut out of the loop. The knee gerk response by a local authority, when they cease to be central in all matters, is to throw their toys out of their pram with great indignation. It happened between Temple Bar Properties and Dublin City Council. Evidence of that is readily available if you speak to those involved in the early 90s development. The same pattern that played out in Temple Bar, is now repeating itself in the Dublin Docklands Area. The public sector on our island, ultimately has to ascertain how it can achieve self-control. Whether it be through Zen style of deep meditation, or whatever means possible. The public body has to appreciate the difference between providing public benches, and providing a modern workplace eco-system. The only criticism I would have of Carroll’s enterprise, is that it went about its business as efficiently as possible. Without sucking off the hind tit of the local authority.

Now, lets look at another model, that of Siemens Retail Estate.

Siemens Real Estate is in the process of developing a full service concept for its own tenants and others. They provide extensive services according to the motto “more freedom for your free time”, an internet market place for groceries, drugstore articles, flowers, theatre tickets, shopping, car maintenanance, insurance and travel bookings, etc. The goods are paid for by credit card and delivered to the workplace, to lockers in the reception area or to the home, depending on buyers’ preferences.

Many natively grown services like car mechanics and flower sellers struggle today, in parts of the docklands area. Imagine the boost to commerce, had a world class headquarters accomdoation been allowed to be built. Instead of taking a wrecking ball to one that is half built. Trully speaking, we must be the laughing stock of Europe right now. Not only are we failing to compete on a global stage, we are actively pursuing ways to hammer ourselves back into the stone age. People in the war torn Balkans region taught they had deeply engrained dis-functionality! But check out Ireland for size, why don’t you.

At Siemens, all those involved benefit greatly. When staff are liberated “from the burdensome necessity of dealing with the daily tasks of everyday life immediately after office hours or shortly before the shops close, valuable time credit is won” which can be profitably used for the company, for families and for leisure-time activities. In addition, the enterprise gains an edge over the competition by being able to attract highly qualified workers.

When I think now of all those pre-furnished apartments I helped to commission in North Wall Quay. When I think of all those ‘valuable time credits’ I helped to try and win. To be honest, I have to grit my teeth. I am sure going to phone Regus Irish branch this week, and ask what they think of our approach in Ireland. What should we be doing, that we aren’t doing? Do they understand why we knock down office buildings? Are we really doing our best to attract ‘highly qualified workers’?

Brian O’ Hanlon

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