A new book on Regent’s Place examines what makes people, places and spaces work in harmony. Author Jack Sallabank explains how he researched it and what he learned
Regent’s Place is the subject (and, indeed, the title) of a new book by Jack Sallabank that captures the story of the people, places and spaces which make up the campus and the surrounding area.“We commissioned Jack to look at the people of Regent’s Place, rather than the architecture or art as that has been focused on historically,” explains Juliette Morgan, Head of Regent’s Place at British Land. “It also felt important to look at companies and people in the wider community, so that we are knitted into the broader communities in Camden and King’s Cross.”But when Sallabank (the founder of consultancy firm Future Places Studio) started researching the book, he had no idea what he would find.
“I spent the first week or two just sitting and watching and walking around,” he recalls. “My first impression of Regent’s Place was that it was like many of these business campuses; it was relatively austere, but the architecture was quite interesting.”
British Land’s ambition is for Regent’s Place to become London’s most inclusive and sustainable office campus
It was once he switched his attention from the buildings to their occupants that he really started to get excited about the project: “People were in suits, jeans and everything in between; Debenhams was there, Facebook was there, Ricoh, Dentsu Aegis. So there was a real mix of people, and I anchored the whole publication around that.
“The way I came to see Regent’s Place is that it’s essentially like a canvas, creating the right spaces for the people that provide the colour and interest and excitement.”
Sallabank went on to interview a range of people to get their insights on what goes into making places people prefer.
The interviewees weren’t just Regent’s Place office workers, though. “A place like this has got to have a relationship with the local business and residential communities,” Sallabank explains, “and I wanted to seek out how that relationship manifests itself in real time.”
He cites the example of the New Diorama Theatre, which he was initially surprised to find on a business campus. “But when I spent time with the theatre, I realised how important they were in creating a relationship with the local community.”
The way we work, the way we live, the way we use our cities – they’re all changing
Regent’s Place is also an active participant in the Knowledge Quarter, an innovation district that brings together organisations including the British Library, the Francis Crick Institute and the Wellcome Trust. These work together to promote education and academia, and the aim is to attract other knowledge-based organisations to the area around Euston Road. Regent’s Place – which has the benefit of being easily accessible by train and tube, as well as being bike-friendly – has the potential to play an important role in this in the coming years. Indeed, British Land’s ambition is for it to become London’s most inclusive and sustainable office campus.
A time of change
The focus on people in the Regent’s Place publication isn’t just a way to gain insights into how we interact with places; Sallabank says it also reflects current thinking. “The way we look at the built environment in London is changing,” he suggests. “It’s a lot more focused on people now, and on treating them as individuals with particular needs.”
And he emphasises that everyone involved in property, from planners to developers to architects, needs to be alert to this. “The way we work, the way we live, the way we use our cities – they’re all changing, thanks mainly to technological advancements. Everyone in the property sector is trying to figure out what that means, and what comes next for these environments,” he says. “I think British Land will continue to succeed, because they’re spending time thinking that through. Those that just carry on business as usual are the ones that will fall behind.”
What they said
A selection of quotes from the book:
“If you’re not in an area which is inspirational, or convenient, or a pleasant space, it can affect your work and your enjoyment of the job you do”
Ingrid Crimmings, General Services Manager, Santander Asset Management
“It makes you notice your living environment and your working environment much more acutely when there are lots of things going on and changing. You really appreciate the refreshing and revitalising of your relationship with the buildings around you”
David Byrne, Artistic and Executive Director, New Diorama Theatre
“There were communities here that go back much further than us. It’s very important that we maintain those links with the community … and that we think about how our programming, collections and expertise can support local needs”
Jamie Andrews, Head of Culture and Learning, British Library
“What we have seen in London is huge development and growth, and my worry is that even in these small zones, the public spaces don’t always bring the institutions together that organically. So I think there is a space for firms like British Land to consider how place can facilitate conversation and collaboration between the people that populate it”
Jodie Eastwood, Chief Executive, Knowledge Quarter
“We have now shifted from physical work to thought work. … There is a sense that we need to nourish people to do their job, and that requires a shift in the way environments are built, the way people can mix together”
Matthew Knight, Head of Strategic Innovation, Carat