Last year, Skanska enriched the development market with a unique operating system for smart office buildings. “Connected by Skanska doesn’t just connect technologies; above all it should connect people,” Skanska Property director Alexandra Tomášková notes in our interview on office innovations.
Skanska was the first developer in the Czech Republic to start enhancing its buildings by developing specialized mobile applications for their users. What led you to decide for this?
A change in society was our impulse here. We perceived that the needs of the people working in our buildings were changing. We were seeing the arrival of a new generation that grew up online and that now spends a large part of its life online. That’s why we’re engaged in innovations: so that we can offer our clients first-rate offices where their employees will be able to work well. It's why in 2015, we became the first developer to offer a mobile app. It’s also why we developed the Connected by Skanska operating system.
In what ways is Connected by Skanska unique?
No other developer has produced a platform that’s so broad, nor one so thoroughly thought through—down to the last detail. It is an open platform that interconnects all of the technologies in an office building, and at the same time—and with equal importance—it should interconnect all of that building’s users.
Can you be more specific?
The foundation for Connected by Skanska is the Connected Building module: the interconnection of its shared spaces. The main goal is to make it more pleasant for users to navigate the building, so they don’t have to waste time seeking plastic cards at the entry, or parking places. Our solution offers phone-based entry, smart parking, and a virtual reception, which is especially appreciated by a building’s visitors. Community interconnection features are included as well.
Alexandra Tomášková, Managing Director, Skanska Property Czech Republic
So are you trying to create a tool for company social networks?
No. The social module—which incidentally has been in place since our first solution at Corso Court in Prague—does offer users tools for communication, but much more important is its integration of all the services available in a given building. The set of them that’s offered varies every time, but the principle stays the same: To let users do things like ordering lunch straight to the office, borrowing a bike or an electric car, or taking inspiration from a listing of attractive events nearby, all within a single application.
What other elements do users have available in their phones?
We’re able to “upgrade” the basic module with what we call the Connected Fit-Out. Via this premium solution, users can very easily use their smartphones to arrange a meeting room, control a room’s lights, or adjust the air conditioning.
This is a solution that we tested successfully last year on, essentially, ourselves, because we first implemented it at the Spark building in Warsaw, into which Skanska’s Polish branch moved. At a tenant’s request, we can prepare Connected Fit-Out for them to order.
Three Buildings, So Much New
You’ll be completing the Praga Studios building in Prague’s Karlín district very soon. What new features can its users look forward to?
This project will have the best smart parking system to date. Its cameras and sensors will give drivers an online overview of parking-spot vacancies. The atrium itself will be unique in many respects—it won’t have any turnstiles, but instead a piano that will make it possible to provide concerts and other cultural events there.
The Parkview building in the Pankrác district should be ready next year. What innovations are you preparing over there?
We’re considering whether and how to create multimedia elevators with screens instead of mirrors inside, to display a variety of content. Then every user could look forward to the surprise awaiting them in the morning when the elevator doors open up. Naturally, the mobile app and the other Connected Building elements—so, things like the virtual reception and mobile access—will be included in Parkview’s basic fit-out.
On the roof, which has a beautiful view of Prague Castle, we’re preparing an enormous terrace for all of our tenants; they’ll have access to a bar and supplies for grilling and relaxation.
Port7 will create a new living hub in Holešovice district in Prague.
Simultaneously, you’re beginning work on the Port7 project in the Holešovice district. What are all the things that will make this project different?
We’re planning to deploy a complete Connected by Skanska solution. We’re confident that Port7 will offer a suitable mix of creative design and a corporate environment, and moreover in a great environment right next to the river. We’re creating a brand-new quarter that will have not only offices, but also a school, a hotel, and a wellness center—and moreover, all these buildings will have shared parking, and so Port7’s smart parking will be even more sophisticated. Along with our other partners, we’re also mulling over a taxi boat, and perhaps placing one meeting room on a boat. We’re also preparing interactive space plans.
What should we be imagining here?
We’re developing an application where users can configure their own offices for themselves. They’ll be able to easily arrange a variety of types of tables, meeting rooms, and other functional spaces into the floor plan for the given floor. Then when they switch into 3D mode, they’ll be able to walk through the space in virtual reality. Just as with the mobile app, this is an innovation that was born at the Czech branch and will be spreading from there into other Skanska divisions in Europe.