LIBERTY – An Office Building Tailored to the Needs of 21st Century Employees
An interview with Norbert Schőmer, Wing’s deputy CEO responsible for office development.
Once Liberty is completed, the new office building will be a milestone in property development in Hungary for several reasons. Norbert Schőmer, Wing’s deputy CEO responsible for office development told us about the extraordinary features of the group’s latest office building that may make it unique in the market and also help companies renting it in the future meet the challenges of the 21st century labour market.
What makes Liberty an outstanding office building in the Hungarian market?
Liberty has, in one place, everything that 21st century employees wish for: an inspiring workplace environment, a wide range of office services and excellent accessibility – this is Liberty in a nutshell.
The location of the office building may be ideal both for those living in the city centre and commuters from the agglomerations, since Liberty is being constructed opposite to Népliget public park in a transport hub: people working there will be only a few minutes from metro line M3 and tram No. 1, and there are also a number of buses and trains leaving from nearby.
In addition, the new workplace will have everything from sports facilities to establishments for relaxing together with colleagues, to spaces inspiring creativity. And all this will be operated in a particularly energy-efficient manner, as we focused on environment-friendly solutions in the technical design of the building, aiming at a BREEAM Excellent rating.
Why did WING choose this location for its latest and so far largest office building project? Was the urban macro-environment or the immediate micro-environment more important when selecting the location?
Based on today’s employee preferences, it was obvious that we would choose a location with metro access for our new office building project. Having seen the success of Telekom Headquarters, there was no question that we continue our developments in this part of the city: metro line 3 and tram 1 are right here and the location can also be easily reached by bus or train.
On the other hand, this area was ideal for our concept of creating office spaces with an efficient layout, good solar exposure and large floor area. We must remember that in the vacant lots remaining in the city centre or the inner part of Váci út those conditions would almost be impossible to meet. In addition, the traffic of tourist buses and pedestrians in itself makes transport rather complicated.
Another important criterion for choosing the location was that progress is palpable in the neighbourhood. We wanted an area for our potential tenants where their employees can feel that working at that part of the city can be considered prestigious. We believe that with the reconstruction of Népliget, a location that is ideal for our purposes will be created: a wide range of services will enrich the neighbourhood by 2021, offering people working there a great number of culinary, cultural and sports opportunities.
Besides the excellent infrastructure already there, how will the services in the area develop?
As a developer, our aim with Liberty is to create all the services that tenants looking for their offices might need. We would like to ensure that through our services provided on the spot, those working in Liberty will feel as if they are in the city centre. Therefore, we are planning restaurants, cafés and food stores on the ground floor in order to meet the needs of people leaving for home after work. We are also building a skybar on the eighth floor, which is going to be the perfect location for relaxing in the evening. The skygarden is designed for a similar purpose, functioning as a space for building the community and to unwind. In addition, a running track and a streetball court will be also available on top of the building.
What is more important, metro access or the great number of parking spaces in the underround garage?
Both were equally important to us. In the long run, we anticipate that people’s attitude to travelling by car will change in the years to come, and car traffic will be replaced by different means of community transport, such as cycling, scooters or car sharing. At the same time, we also had to take into consideration the special characteristics of the location, Hungária körút. We reckoned that the tenants would find the opportunity to park in the full service underground garage useful.
What inspired the shape and layout of the building?
Beyond efficiency and modern design, we wanted to create an architectural profile that was different from that of the Telekom Headquarters, while we also wished it to be totally harmonious with it. We believe that the two buildings will be in perfect harmony, as Liberty, just like the Telekom Headquarters, is an efficient office building organised around an inner courtyard, and even their mass formation is similar. At the same time, the multicoloured, playful airiness of Liberty’s façade implies a building with several tenants and a number of services, and sensitive observers may have a glimpse of the change of the visual language of architecture.
Will there be areas in the building open to the public?
Of course. Anybody may visit the inner landscaped courtyard, which is covered with a unique floating mirror, since it will be open and traversable. Also, besides the office receptions, the restaurants, cafés and shops will be accessible from public areas.
Where did the idea of the colourful shading elements come from?
The designer, DPI architectural company, proposed a plan with this façade in it, and eventually we chose them. As the designing process progressed, we fell even more in love with this concept.
The closed greenhouse (skygarden) in the building is completely unique in Hungary. What was the inspiration?
Our aim was to provide those working in the active office building location with an opportunity to feel like they’re on a peaceful island or close to nature. That is how the idea of the greenhouse, a space for slow-down and relaxation, was born.
What functions do the spaces with rooftop atriums on the eighth floor have?
These are meant to be creative spaces that may be suitable for special office functions of the companies, or, they may also be used as community spaces, and we can even transform them into a conference centre.
Are the rooftop running track and basketball court just a marketing tool or will they be really built?
Absolutely, they will be created just as we have built the rooftop running track of the Telekom Headquarters. The only difference is that in Liberty, a streetball court will also be added.
What solutions support energy efficiency and sustainability in the building?
Liberty was designed to comply with the tightened EU directive on energy efficiency to become effective in 2021, requiring “nearly zero energy buildings”. In the light of the above, thanks to smart solutions, the building will be so efficient that the extra cost spent on energy efficiency is guaranteed to be recovered during its estimated lifecycle. The external weather sensor, indoor air quality monitor, target level controlled energy-saving lifts, as well as the integrated lighting and shading control create conditions for companies to operate sustainably. What’s more, nearly 25% of the annual energy demand will be produced from renewable energy sources within the site.
What makes Liberty Liberty?
The office building is the embodiment of what 21st employees need, which means that it helps its future tenants attract and retain the right workforce in today’s labour market. Liberty will be a building offering much more than a usual workplace: it will have spaces both for creative thinking and relaxation after – and during – work. Employees in Liberty office building are freed from old constraints, so they can work without any limitations. Thanks to the additional services provided in the building (opportunity for shopping, sport tracks, a green garden, a panoramic skybar, a restaurant and a café), employees can save time and energy, which will make daily life easier for them. We aim to let the tenants of the office building enjoy more liberty and become more efficient by offering a great number of additional services at one location.