Thomas Bögl's blog: "Invest in existing real estate, harness the potential"

Friday May 17, 2024

In our industry, we're making strides, but the urgency of the climate crisis demands more than cautious initiatives and lengthy planning. The pressing question of how to significantly reduce the carbon footprint in our projects is more relevant than ever. Driven by the ambition to design and build 'Paris Proof,' we focus on one of the most promising strategies: the redevelopment of existing (public) real estate.

The strength of this approach lies in maximizing the use of what already exists and further developing it. The structure of these buildings is already in place, often offering the flexibility to assign them new functions. This approach is not only efficient but also particularly respectful when it comes to heritage, especially for iconic buildings in urban settings that hold a familiar place in our collective memory.

  • Consider the prominent building known to many residents of The Hague as the Rijmenam factory, a printing and binding facility that fell into disrepair after its closure. This post-war factory building has been transformed into an energy-neutral municipal office, preserving its spatial qualities and monumental façade. It now houses the SZW and OCW services of the Municipality of The Hague, making it—literally—a place by and for the city.

  • What about the monumental V&D department store in a prime location in The Hague's city center, which has been vacant for years? A new purpose has been found for it as a university center. This choice, though perhaps unconventional, is logical given the building's design and location. CBRE, the Municipality of The Hague, and Leiden University have championed this redevelopment successfully. The building will soon meet high sustainability standards (BREEAM-excellent) and invigorate the (shopping) area.

These two projects in The Hague exemplify the success of redeveloping existing real estate. They demonstrate how 'old' buildings, with the right vision and careful approach, can be transformed into new urban gems. Fortunately, the enthusiasm among clients and property owners for this strategy is growing. By repurposing real estate, we are enhancing the built environment and reducing the carbon footprint within our projects.

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