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Tall tales: Are people-focused vertical villages the new normal?

The UK’s prime office markets are roaring back in to life, with towers proving to be top prospects.

02/03/2022 2 min read
22 bishopsgate

Words: David Thame

The promoters of tall towers are calling them ‘people-focused vertical villages’ and there’s little doubt that occupiers want amenity-rich sustainable office space. AXA IM Alts has agreed another new lease at 22 Bishopsgate, its 1.2m sq ft, 62-storey flagship London office scheme.

The deal on the 46th floor, with international law firm McDermott Will & Emery, means the block is now 68% let, having scored 222,000 sq ft of lettings since July. More floors are reported to be under offer, ‘driven by high occupier demand for high-quality amenity rich buildings with sustainable credentials.’

Amenities include ‘The Market’, 22 Bishopsgate’s 20,000 sq ft food hub, run in partnership with leading hospitality group, Rhubarb; ‘The Exchange’, a central innovation centre; as well as business events and conference space. The building incorporates state-of-the-art technology to support productive and agile working and offers touchless entry systems, as well as an app that will allow residents to book gym classes, pre-order food and drink, and manage the meeting room booking system. Designed by PLP, 22 Bishopsgate was also the first building in the UK to apply for the WELL Building Standard.

In a separate deal in Birmingham, Law firm Shoosmiths has taken 33K SF of hybrid workspace at the 26-storey tower for the 11th, 12th and 20th floors, after agreeing a 15-year lease with Sterling Property Ventures and Tristan Capital Partners’ EPISO 4 fund. The 224,000 sq ft block is now 60% let.

That both towers are over 60% let after a year of on-off lockdowns is a testament to their occupier appeal.

“This deal is a further endorsement of our vision for the building as Europe’s first people-focused vertical village,” said Phillip Shalless, Senior Asset Manager at AXA IM Alts. “It demonstrates that businesses are now comfortable making forward looking decisions to facilitate the needs of their staff and their longer-term growth. It also highlights the appeal of high-quality buildings, complete with amenities and sustainability features that are future fit and meet peoples’ work needs in a post-pandemic environment.”

Photography: Edmund Sumner

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