Skanska: Building for a better society
Social awareness has been a guiding principle for Skanska from the day it was established. It’s at the core of its company philosophy and every project it takes on. By Adrian Karczewicz.
Commercial development trends may come and go and design styles may evolve. But the office projects Skanska develops reflect the company’s strategy to deliver spaces that serve the present and future needs of their users, investors and the local community. Combining the best design practices, the principles of sustainable development and technological innovation, the developer is able to offer projects that continuously address these needs. It creates smarter spaces for people to live, work and connect.
Design philosophy based on Scandinavian heritage
The developer has strong belief in its Scandinavian roots. Skåne, a region in the south of Sweden, is where these roots originate. This heritage is the foundation of Skanska’s philosophy of creating comfortable and functional spaces with a focus on ensuring safety and supporting the health and well-being of people. And with lots of love for green – both in terms of plants enriching the interiors and the surroundings of the projects it develops and the actions it takes to limit its carbon footprint. This includes emissions from its own operations and its value chain, as well as those generated by tenants as they use the office buildings created by Skanska.
No longer spaces that people just pass through
Skanska has changed the function of a lobby in the office buildings it develops from a space people pass through to a warm and friendly area. Based on key elements – warm and comfort-giving light, natural materials, as well as openness and greenery – the lobbies provide various spaces for meetings and rest. It’s worth mentioning that lobbies in Skanska’s office buildings serve not only tenants and visitors, but also the local community, including the needs of parents with small children, the elderly and those with disabilities.
Moreover, Skanska adds artistic elements to its projects, commissioning local artists to create them. Across Skanska’s office buildings in Central and Eastern Europe, users, visitors and often also passers-by can enjoy art in various forms by a selection of artists. For example, the facade of one of the buildings in the Spark complex in Warsaw is decorated with a mural painting by Tytus Brzozowski, a Polish watercolour painter and an architect fascinated with the urban spirit.
In Prague, the lobby of the Five building has a painting by one of the most famous Czech contemporary artists, Jakub Matuška, known as Masker. And users of the lobby of the Parkview building can admire a chandelier created by Marek Číhal.
Skanska cares for the lives of people and the environment, so it thinks about those who use its buildings. Respecting the history of places and the culture of the local communities, it doesn’t erase places – it brings them to life.
Wherever a Skanska building is created, a new chapter of the city is created with it. The developer does not just create single buildings, it builds entire complexes that transform neighbourhoods. The company designs functional office and meeting spaces and equips its projects with sustainable solutions (such as water and energy-saving systems), greenery, physical activity-encouraging facilities (such as basketball pitches, rooftop running tracks or bicycle parking) and places supporting human connection: from comfortable benches to cafés and restaurants.
Skanska works with individuals, communities and organisations whose lives and livelihoods may be affected by the places it shapes, with foresight and consideration for long-term needs. This involves designing buildings and areas around them that are inclusive and encourage activity. Prior to each project start, Skanska holds conversations with local stakeholders to better understand and address their needs.
Using (Project) Compass to reach the destination
Design processes are often associated with the architectural and construction works. But at Skanska it starts way before a competition for the best architectural project launches or a cornerstone is laid. For each project, it concentrates on three areas – sustainability, innovation and design – within the so-called Project Compass framework. It brings together
the company’s experts with various expertise areas, including project management, leasing, marketing, innovation and sustainability, to come up with ideas that create value for future tenants and investors.
It includes both user experience (UX), so all solutions create a difference in everyday usage of the building, and client experience (CX), meaning tools and processes that decision-makers go through in their journey with Skanska. UX is created by users’ interaction with our project. It starts from design, continues through sustainable solutions, to innovations.
Altogether, it aims to increase users’ satisfaction, to make savings and to stand out in the market. CX is created throughout the client’s interaction with Skanska. It includes both digital tools and offline solutions which clients can touch and feel. Both of these combined enable Skanska to deliver outstanding products in an outstanding way.
Beauty and functionality guaranteed
Once Project Compass contributors come up with an initial concept, the Beauty and Functionality Team gets involved. Combining marketing, project management, leasing, innovation, sustainability and asset management, it provides multi-dimensional feedback at the early stage of project development. The aim of getting the Beauty and Functionality Team involved is to ensure consistency with Skanska’s design philosophy in terms of the look and feel of the project – its appearance and functionality.
Project Compass and the Beauty & Functionality Team are a reflection of Skanska’s belief that by coming together to think differently and solve problems today, we have the power to shape sustainable spaces to support healthy living beyond our lifetime.
‘Skanska is a customer-focused developer’
The needs of our customers – tenants and investors – are reflected at every stage of designing office buildings, writes Adrian Karczewicz. In the last few years, sustainability has become one of the most important (if not the most important) element of these needs. The ESG agenda plays a critical role in commercial development. It is foremost in our customers’ minds, and companies in the banking sector treat it as a starting point for any discussion.
We listen and respond by creating office projects aligned with ESG principles – and we create a new chapter in the development of neighbourhoods in terms of how they look and serve local communities. And we implement climate-smart solutions at each stage of the lifecycle of buildings we raise.
Skanska creates office spaces that support the health and safety of users and visitors as well as contribute to the development of local communities and support their needs. We follow the highest ethical standards and require the same from our employees, subcontractors, and suppliers.
By taking these actions, we work towards achieving our own sustainability aspirations and help our customers fulfil theirs – this includes offering projects that can help investors meet their ESG-related investment targets.
Adrian Karczewicz is head of divestments at Skanska’s commercial development business unit in Central and Eastern Europe