New London Architecture

Five minutes with...Jay Squier

Tuesday 15 November 2022

David Taylor

Editor, NLQ and New London Weekly

David Taylor catches up with Jay Squier of Native Land to talk about its Arbor building, the Bankside Yards development it is part of, and its ‘Hypermixity’ approach to development.

David Taylor  
Hi, Jay. How are you doing?
 
Jay Squier  
Extremely well, David. Thank you for your time today.
 
David Taylor  
I thought we would usefully talk about Arbor, your project over at Bankside Yards, chiefly because I understand it's completing at the end of the year. Could you tell my readers a little bit about the project and some of its main features?
 
Jay Squier  
I'd be delighted to. Here at Native Land, we've been very busy with Bankside Yards over the last five years or so, having bought the five-acre site in 2016. We have since then undertaken a really in-depth series of planning amendments changes and improvements to create what we think is one of the world's leading new major mixed-use estates.
 
David Taylor  
You produced a report quite recently called ‘Towards Hypermixity’, which I think underpins your essential approach to development across your entire portfolio. Could you put into words what that approach is?
 
Jay Squier  
I could, yes. At Native Land, our focus has traditionally been on building exceptional super prime residential, and our first major projects were focused on that sector. And it's been incredibly useful for honing our skills as we develop the company into larger mixed-use estates. With Bankside Yards, a 1.4 million square feet, mixed-use estate, we've taken our experience in multiple assets and multiple sectors and started introducing a lot of new additions. The original Bankside Yards masterplan was focused primarily on just office and residential. We have consciously introduced a number of new uses into the masterplan because we think it's the right thing to do. We think it's where the market's going, and we think it's where our skill sets are. So instead of just apartments and residential, and some retail, we've introduced a five-star hotel; we've introduced further cultural elements on the site, we've introduced affordable housing on the site. And we've also introduced a variety of different types of residential and commercial products across the estate.
 
David Taylor  
So you're focusing on a truly mixed-use environment, essentially, with diversity and cultural offerings alongside - so you're avoiding monoculture, essentially, that's your approach?
 
Jay Squier  
We're avoiding monoculture in design, feel and use, as well. The original masterplan was masterplanned very effectively by PLP and had nine exceptional buildings on the site. We've now introduced another five architects into the masterplan. We've removed one building to increase the amount of public realm to give greater consistency and strength to the masterplan. And we've introduced two or three new uses.
 
David Taylor  
And was this part of the lure in attracting the law firm Lewis Silkin to Arbor because I noticed they were in the City and you know, they've moved to SE1, which is fairly significant, I would have thought.
 
Jay Squier  
It is. Lewis Silkin is focused on intellectual property and media. They targeted South Bank and while searching on the South Bank, they pretty soon focused on Arbor. And I think the reasons for that are primarily on the design and quality of Arbor, the future potential of Bankside Yards and how it integrates into the wider South Bank area linking into Borough and the South Bank cultural rhythm as well. And also, the sustainability credentials of both Arbor and the Bankside Yards masterplan. The key part of that is that it's the UK's first major Fossil Free mixed-use estate, which means it uses only electricity, will be carbon neutral in operation and will also allow the sharing of energy load, cooling and heating across a fifth-generation energy network.
 
David Taylor  
How much of a draw is that for occupiers? And as a subsidiary question to that, is that driven by tenants and employees who are seeking to align themselves with firms which are in super green buildings?
 
Jay Squier  
I think it's strongly driven by employees. I think it's driven by questions around their clients as well. And it's driven by differentiating as a business. I think as a law firm Lewis Silkin has made a decision to differentiate itself on those key parts, and moving to Arbor was a key part of that next step for them as a business.
 
David Taylor  
So, what's the next step for you guys as developers? What's next along the schedule?
 
Jay Squier  
Well, the next thing is finishing Arbor, which is due at the end of the year, and starting to have people go around the building and see Arbor. If you go past it now you've got an incredibly dramatic addition. The building is sitting 14 meters above grade, built over the Thameslink viaduct. It's got two double-height spaces in the building. It's got a triple-glazed facade and really dramatic angled glazing systems. We're excited about finishing that and launching that into the market and showing people our first major office building.
 
David Taylor  
And then what? 
 
Jay Squier  
Following that, we will move through building out the rest of the Bankside Yards estate. The basement of one part of the estate has been built and is ready for the second or third buildings to follow on. The railway arches, which are 15 Incredible Victorian railway arches, which we purchased a long leasehold of from Network Rail are under renovation at the moment. And that will open up a piece of space in SE1 which hasn't had public access for about 150 years. And then we'll move to build out the eastern side, the Eastern Yard a few years after that.
 
David Taylor  
Magic. Are you excited about all that?
 
Jay Squier  
I'm excited, daunted, and challenged by, I suppose all of the groundwork we've done to get it ready. And then the innovation and thought that needs to come in constructing over the next five, seven years. And that's thinking about who's building, what the right product is, how you reduce carbon, and how you position Bankside Yards amongst its peers in both London and internationally.
 
David Taylor  
'What the right product is', you mentioned there. Do you mean the office products there? And is there a hint about how people are working - hybrid working, part of the week working? What are you thinking there?
 
Jay Squier  
All of our focus and how we set up projects and products is driven by quality and innovation, and doing something special. So, our first principle is stepping back and saying 'how can we innovate?'. How can we do something really unique? And that is amongst office, residential, hotel, and the public realm. You know, our approach has always been to create exceptional and special spaces of unique quality, and we're going to attract premium tenants and we're going to attract premium buyers and the types of people in the market, not leasing or buying because they have to, but because they want to, and that's how we position our product.
 
David Taylor  
Well, good luck with it all. I'm looking forward to perhaps looking around Arbor at some point, so that'd be great to see.
 
Jay Squier  
We'd love to have you, David, ready in January to have a look around.
 
David Taylor  
Lovely. I'll see you then. Thanks for your time.
 
Jay Squier  
Thanks, David.


David Taylor

Editor, NLQ and New London Weekly



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