Article Index — 12
Annual Report 2019

A smart building creates added value

“The thing Ghelamco excels at is developing a vision of what the future holds in store”, says Jürgen Ingels, Technology Entrepreneur and Independent Director at Ghelamco

Technology is rapidly changing the world. Does that include the construction industry? 

“People believe technology isn’t really important for the construction industry. All you need to do to build an office is to lay a few bricks, right? Nothing could be further from the truth. The potential impact of technological developments on the building industry is immense.”

“Technology plays a manifold role in the industry. Just think of all the research into new materials, new methods using robots to build walls, and new inspection systems using drones which can do checks before buildings are commissioned. The most important thing is to look at all those evolutions with an open mind.”

“Ghelamco sets the trend for offices and the new way of working.”

Jürgen Ingels Tech Entrepreneur and Independent Director at Ghelamco

Bricks and mortar belong to the past?

“The disruption is far-reaching and is also a factor inside buildings. People look at a building and just see the exterior, not all the technology it contains. The possibilities, however, are legion. In office buildings, intelligent systems can check, for example, whether a heating boiler’s performance is beginning to deteriorate, indicating when it needs maintenance.”

“In the future, logistics buildings will be full of artificial intelligence; for instance, smart accounting systems able to send out an invoice as soon as a truck drives away. Buildings are becoming smart, thus generating added value. They are becoming part of the value chain. A smart building creates value.”

What role will technology play in Ghelamco’s future?

“With an eye for the future, Ghelamco is setting the trend in several areas such as offices and new ways of working. Offices are constantly monitored, with the collected data used for example to check power consumption and tweak environmental parameters.

What challenges does Ghelamco face, and how can technology address them?

“You shouldn’t build offices today if you know they’re going to be obsolete in ten years’ time because they won’t meet the requirements with regard to sustainability, new materials and monitoring. Otherwise, you’ll have a hard time renting or selling them.”

“The challenge is to stay abreast of the times. How can you make sure a building will still be relevant fifteen years from now? You can’t just wait to see which way the wind will blow. You can no longer wait for a technology to become widely adopted and then get to work on it. At that point you’re already too late.

The world is changing so quickly. How hard is it to keep up?

“Ghelamco focuses emphatically on staying in the game. For example, it shows flexibility, adapting easily and quickly to tenants’ changing business needs, the demand side of the market. It looks at start-ups. Indeed, it does more than just look: it gets them to set up shop in the MeetDistricts. Ghelamco has its eyes open all the time: who’s doing what? It’s important to keep tabs on what’s happening.”

Could Ghelamco play a pioneering role too?

“Definitely. Its MeetDistricts are a trailblazer for ecosystems, for the idea that companies can achieve more if they work together. If you want companies to work together, you need to develop buildings that let them do so. That’s why MeetDistricts have a homey atmosphere and a bar in the middle where people can meet. The thing Ghelamco excels at is developing a vision of what the future holds in store.”

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