Triodos Bank’s Executive Board provides a perspective on the wider world it operates in, its impact and activity in 2017 and its prospects for the future.
Futurn is a project developer that focuses on creating new spaces by redeveloping under-utilised sites via decontamination, demolition, renovation and new building work. With its Westgate project, Futurn is redeveloping an old printworks site at Brussels' West gate. The project involves the development of a multipurpose business park on the printing company’s existing site as its activities gradually decrease over the next three or four years.
Which challenge was the inspiration for your project?
Land is very scarce in Belgium. So we need to be creative with the land that’s available. That also means: more companies in fewer square metres. Old industrial sites are not attractive because the buildings and design no longer suit the needs of today's businesses. The risk is that they remain empty as a result, creating a local eyesore. But, in reality, there is plenty of potential in these sites.
The market context is competitive, which means we need to make sure that our redevelopment projects are equivalent to our competitors’ in terms of price and quality.
What was so innovative about the way this problem was addressed?
Redeveloping old industrial sites is a great challenge for project developers because they can be very complex in terms of all the technological, environmental, conceptual, architectural, fiscal and legal issues that are involved. Complex projects that involve some risk have many aspects that require an innovative approach.
We go into great detail examining the quality of the buildings, in order to see whether they can be recycled - down-cycling you might say. Certain demolition materials are recycled in our projects. We also look for additional value in up-cycling: how can we use the buildings in new ways, give them a new home, a new purpose, to suit the future economy.
Finally, we also try to put more content into our project by mixing functions. We use both roads and infrastructure, and consider the aesthetics and architecture of a building in the context of its surroundings.
What was the impact of the company or organisation on the sector in which it operates?
Our business model allows us to accommodate more businesses in a smaller space. This creates a context in which companies can work together more closely, because they form a kind of business community within the project.
We notice that authorities often regard our projects as a reference and promote redevelopment wherever possible.
What was the impact of the company or organisation on the community?
Futurn tries to involve the local community in each of its projects. We sometimes use cultural events and sometimes we opt for events geared towards young people or sports. That way we create a positive attitude towards the project.
What was the impact of Triodos Bank on the company or organisation?
Triodos Bank’s focus on sustainability challenges us to go further in this direction.
How does Triodos Bank share the vision behind the project?
Triodos Bank appreciates the essence of Futurn's business model. In particular the recycling of existing industrial sites to protect and benefit from scarce space.