As founder and director of the strategic planning and design consultancy Meld Strategies, Bruce Duyshart’s mission is to create smart buildings. Meld works with property developers and design professionals toimplement a range of technologies such as building automation, energy monitoring, digital wayfinding, mobile apps and various software systems. Bruce and his team deliver a superior user experience for occupants of commercial offices and high-end residential apartment buildings. These services are invaluable when initiated at the conceptual phase of a new project such as 627 Chapel Street.
“If you look under the hood, most buildings are actually not that smart. They host a series of technology silos where systems don’t talk to each other, and where protocols can be a pain to manage.
This results in average to poor experiences for both the occupants and the people running them. When we are engaged by forward-thinking clients like Goldfields, we know they recognise technology can improve the operational performance of their building, and more importantly they know we can create tangible value that their tenants can enjoy daily,” explains Bruce.
“At 627 Chapel Street, we are creating a building that is designed to be intelligent from the outset”
After 25 years’ experience in the tech industry and 16 years with a major property developer where he worked across all property asset classes with every type of technology, Bruce penned Smarter Buildings. Better Experiences: A Practical Guide to Strategising, Innovating and Connecting with Technology in Property. The book distilled and shared his knowledge, and formed the methodology that now underpins Meld’s practice. There were three core principles Bruce wanted to highlight:
— The world of technology is vast and is affecting every industry, especially the property industry.
— Underlying every technology there is often quite a simple logic that can be easily explained.
— Never do technology for technology’s sake. Technology should be used only to support a business outcome, solve a problem or create a better user experience.
“When you boil it down and simplify it, technology is relatively easy compared to the behavioural change often needed when implementing new systems. People are creatures of habit and fundamentally don’t like change. Hence the need for new processes to help people understand how to achieve successful outcomes,” he says.
Given the constant leaps in technology, Bruce has seen marked changes take place in the modern workplace since the book was published. “Firstly, I think the penny has well and truly dropped with respect to the recognition of smart buildings and the need for a methodology that can be used in building design. Secondly, there has been a greater appreciation of data and how it can be used to unlock value in improving building performance and to provide greater insights into areas such as occupant behaviours, safety, wellness and comfort. Finally, the industry has recognised the need to be able to articulate a value proposition to tenants and residents as to how technology can provide better daily user experiences”.
Having worked closely with COX Architecture on several projects, Meld’s credentials were equally valued by Goldfields who engaged Bruce as principal technology consultant on 627 Chapel Street. By developing a technology masterplan during the conceptual phase of the project, Bruce and his team could present all potential technology options and the benefits they offer.
“The issue with technology is that there are so many options, most people don’t know where to start, much less what options are available or what benefits they bring. “At 627 Chapel Street, we are creating a building that is designed to be intelligent from the outset. That alone is a huge leap forward compared to what has been commonplace in the industry for over 100 years.”
Given this rigourous process, the level of technological innovation at 627 Chapel Street is unparalleled and anticipates ways the modern workplace is evolving. Meld’s approach is to focus on data-capture to help better manage the building and allow for its performance to improve over time. Occupants will use a smartphone app for access, view building information, and even open an end-of-trip smart locker.
“From an end-user experience perspective, we closely examine all the touch points that people interact with in a building and ask the question ‘How could technology make this easier, more convenient or safer?’. We believe this attention to detail ultimately creates a point of difference that elevates the daily experience of 627 Chapel Street compared to other high-end office towers”.
According to Bruce, there are several business trends where technological innovation intersects with advances in the workplace and its culture. Firstly, businesses are looking for flexibility, wellness and resilience in the workplace.
In terms of flexibility, companies want to understand the utilisation of their office space and want to be able to easily adapt and modify the workplace, while remaining connected and ensuring their technology works consistently.
Regarding wellness, companies want to create healthy workplace environments and a culture of healthy living. One of the things Meld can achieve is to measure indoor environmental air quality to support this desired outcome. To improve resilience, companies want to ensure their business remains online, backed up, and is safely accessible over extended periods of time at any time of the week. To accomplish this, Meld makes improvements to telecommunications, power backup, security access control and safety intercoms.
“It is increasingly difficult for a company to predict where their business will be in five years time, let alone ten, so we have to make buildings technologically adaptable to evolving and changing business needs,” says Bruce.
With this uncompromising investment in future-facing technology, 627 Chapel Street is part of a new breed of intelligent office towers.
“South Yarra has it all. Parks, gardens, great cafes and restaurants, good transport. This is an address that is ideal for creative, tech and lifestyle businesses. Having worked in both Sydney’s and Melbourne’s city centres, and now working in a city fringe area, I can honestly say it is a breath of fresh air to be out of the grind of the CBD. I think there is a lot going for a more relaxed, less formal yet equally sophisticated business environment”.