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Rooftops an underutilized potential to create a unique space

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A fleeting trend or a well-thought-out strategy? Global real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield presents a report on the use of commercial buildings’ rooftops.

Only a few years ago, rooftops of buildings had no substantial use value in addition to serving their primary function. Their potential has, however, recently begun to be recognised. Some rooftops have already been well-fitted-out and feature original spaces. “Sky-high premises or interestingly arranged terraces are likely to become cult places and benefit both the entire building and all its tenants. Such space needs, however, to be appropriately designed in order to fully unlock its unique potential. A beautiful view should complement the whole and enhance the distinctive character of the space,” says Małgorzata Dziubińska, Associate Director, Consulting and Research, Cushman & Wakefield.

According to the report’s authors, a new space is emerging: new generation rooftops whose biggest strength lies in a panoramic view of a city which itself is unique. There are, however, buildings that put rooftop space to effective use in non-central locations too. They are becoming increasingly common on the outskirts and in the suburbs of cities. “The rooftop is not only about space on top floors of high-rise buildings. Very interesting concepts are also developed on lower floors such as Moonsfera, a restaurant on the ‘rooftop’ of the Olympic Centre in Warsaw offering a view of the Kępa Potocka Park, the Żoliborz district and the wild bank of the River Vistula. Another example is Sen Warsaw (in the building housing the head office of the Warsaw Rowing Association) with an observation deck overlooking the Vistula and the National Stadium. You can taste cuisines from all over the world there in a casual atmosphere,” adds Małgorzata Dziubińska.

Rooftops are most often put to three main uses: restaurants, event venues or entertainment space. The first concept has been known for a long time, but the focus so far has been on the view rather than on the cuisine. According to a new concept, service quality and exclusive dishes are the key and a panoramic view of the city is just an addition. “The Cafe Oranżeria restaurant on the top floor of the Kossak Hotel in Krakow combines dining with a view of the Wawel Hill. The Varso Tower in Warsaw is an eagerly awaited project in the city. It will feature an observation deck and an exclusive restaurant on its top floors,” says Małgorzata Dziubińska.

An event venue on the rooftop must ensure unique experiences so that events held there are long and well remembered. This will certainly entail higher rents and costs (catering, fit-out design, logistics), but the project will be economically-viable. “Business Link’s space on the top floors of Astoria in Warsaw comprises a viewing platform with natural grass while the newly-constructed part of the Ethos building features an event space for tenant use,” says Małgorzata Dziubińska.

Rooftops have the biggest potential to be adapted for entertainment space. Possibilities are plentiful: ordinary bars, hot-tub cinemas (watching movies in mini jacuzzis) or mini golf courses. Uniqueness of the surroundings is the distinctive feature of such places. “In Poland a vast majority of such space is adapted for exclusive bars or clubs such as Panorama Sky Bar on the 40th floor of the Marriott hotel in Warsaw, offering live music, a broad selection of cocktails, drinks and snacks, and a panorama of the city. Warsaw’s Spectrum Tower houses The View on its 28th and 32nd floors, an exclusive bar with the city’s highest observation deck. Another sky-high restaurant is 27th Floor at Altus in Katowice, which replaced the famous Sky Bar,” adds Małgorzata Dziubińska.

Rooftop space should be properly designed and comply with all quality and security standards, including fire safety requirements. Staircase capacity and additional escape routes are also important.

Although rooftop space utilisation is a relatively novel concept in Europe, some interesting projects have already been completed. The report presents a list of 20 finest rooftops on the Old Continent. Lisbon’s Park Lisboa with an entertainment-style rooftop takes top spot. London’s Kensington Roof Gardens featuring an event venue on its rooftop came second while Franks in London’s Peckham claimed the third place podium finish with its rooftop transformed into an entertainment space. The ranking also includes one building in Poland: Millenium Plaza in Warsaw, whose Level 27 is the highest-ranked Polish rooftop in the 19th position.

The full report is to download: http://www.cushmanwakefield.co.uk/en-gb/research-and-insight/2018/rooftops-of-emea