Tell me about your position.
I’m Director of the Office Portfolio for Swire Properties. Our principal holdings are in Hong Kong and on the Chinese mainland, covering Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Chengdu. But we also have presence in Miami, where we’ve developed a site called Brickell City Centre, which creates a sort
of centre for Miami. It’s an integrated mixed-use development, which is a model that we’ve brought to much of our portfolio.
How do you see the workplace of the 21st century evolving?
For me, it’s about placemaking: the line between private and work life is becoming increasingly blurred, so we want to provide a place not just to work and play but also live. People don’t want to just come to the office and then go home. It’s all about providing venues that can keep people here outside of normal office hours – where they might socialise with colleagues and talk about work – and creating a happy, productive workforce.
You’re in the middle of a HK$15 billion redevelopment of Taikoo Place. What are you looking to do in that area?
Taikoo Place is a good example of placemaking. It’s primarily a commercial hub but with a lot going on around it. We’ve got amenities like a performing arts venue, ArtisTree; The Refinery, a new club, which will be opening towards the end of this year; and a co-working space, blueprint. Our new building One Taikoo Place will be finished by mid-2018 and Two Taikoo Place will be finished at the end of 2021. Combining these with One Island East, we’ll have 3.5 million square feet of AAA spec space to meet the requirements of prospective and existing tenants.
Swire Properties is growing on the Chinese mainland, most recently with the opening of HKRI Taikoo Hui in Shanghai. How are market demands evolving?
Companies on the Chinese mainland are realising they’re competing for the same talent pool as the multinationals. To attract talent, they’ve got to provide a nice working environment that will appeal to the younger workforce. HKRI Taikoo Hui is a good example. It launched in early November and the offices are already about 80 percent leased. Part of the attraction is the mixed use: we have two office towers, two hotels, serviced apartments and a shopping centre, sitting above three metro lines. I think it’s the last development of that scale that you’ll see for some time in Jing’an district.
How are innovation and technology affecting property?
I think they’re affecting the way people use their office spaces. Workplaces need to reflect how technology affects our life and the way we work. So there’s less assigned seating, there’s more informal collaborative areas, and it’s all pretty wireless and mobile. Technology will continue to disrupt the way businesses operate and those sorts of influences and drivers on their business are going to influence the requirements on real estate.