“Gone are the days when you just needed ‘an office’,” says Gavin Poole. “Now businesses are looking for space to operate that will give them a competitive advantage.”
Poole says they will find that competitive advantage at Here East, a 1.2 million sq ft campus for the creative and digital industries in Stratford, East London. Here East is being developed by iCITY, a company owned by clients of Delancey, a specialist real estate investment and advisory company.
Poole, who is CEO of Here East, acknowledges both the recent growth in popularity of co-working spaces such as WeWork and Second Home, and also the importance of out-of-town science and R&D hubs. However, he says Here East sits between these two ideas, as something “totally unique,” because of the range of organisations and facilities that will coalesce.
“We’re creating an environment where businesses can work alongside each other,” he says. “They will be putting on events, discussions and have access to the right type of facilities to allow them to come together in a structured yet serendipitous way to learn, work and push the boundaries of education.”
The scheme, which will have space for 5,500 workers, is based around the redevelopment of two vast buildings that were used as the press and broadcast centres for the 2012 London Olympics. Part of this space has already been taken by BT Sport, which is three years into a ten-year lease on the site, while another chunk has been allotted to an Infinity data centre that, along with the telecoms infrastructure that was laid for the Olympics, should be a substantial draw for businesses.
In addition to that, the site will be a hub for education. A Loughborough University entrepreneurship MBA, which has already been taught for a year, will be joined by the University College London’s (UCL) Faculty of the Built Environment and UCL Engineering, which will house the university’s manufacturing and prototyping facilities. This, Poole adds, is part of the reason that Here East has so much potential – with product design and prototype manufacture being possible all in one, well-connected, creative environment.
All this fits in with the transformation of the Stratford area, with its giant Westfield shopping mall, thousands of homes in the pipeline, and new offices under construction in The International Quarter for Transport for London and the Financial Conduct Authority. The Olympics site has re-opened as the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, where the stadium hosts Premiership soccer team, West Ham United.
Alongside the tech and creative businesses that Poole hopes will push Here East to almost 100% occupancy by the summer of 2018, other types of creative organisations will take space – internationally acclaimed choreographer Wayne McGregor is one of the first and will have a custom-fitted studio.
Poole says the scheme is in keeping with other creative hub developments around the world, such as Cyber Port in Hong Kong, RDM Campus in Rotterdam, Euratechnologies in Lille, and Industry City and New Lab, which are both in Brooklyn. Importantly, Poole says, Here East is intended to be an entity that will interact with the rest of London, drawing on the impetus of what he describes as “the eastward march” that the city is witnessing by complimenting nearby developments at East Wick and Hackney Wick.
“WE’RE CREATING AN ENVIRONMENT WHERE BUSINESSES CAN WORK ALONGSIDE EACH OTHER AND COME TOGETHER IN A STRUCTURED YET SERENDIPITOUS WAY”