In April last year, roughly one year into the pandemic, NSW chief economist Stephen Walters made a suggestion that a lot of people had been thinking about for a while.
Noting the virtually empty streets of Sydney CBD and realising – as we all were at that time – that working from home really was a viable option for most of us, he says, “We are not coming back in [to the office] 100 per cent five days a week and so the reality is the demand for office space is not going to be what it used to be.”
“It could be that those extra unused floors are sublet, or even turned into residential so you have retail on the bottom, offices in the middle and residents up top.”
While Walters’ idea wasn’t exactly ground breaking – repurposing old commercial towers for residential use has been going on for years – the advent of COVID-19 gave his comment a fresh relevance. The pandemic has shifted the goal posts in terms of the future of CBDs. (Indesignlive, March 2022, PTW turns an old office tower into luxury apartments)
We explore key issues around adaptive reuse of older commercial buildings in the Blue at Lavender Bay case study at the link below.