Offices for living in: An instrument for measuring the potential for transforming offices into homes

RP Geraedts, DJM van der Voordt

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A large number of office premises seem difficult to rent out because they no longer meet the demands of the market. A solution must be found for these premises and also for office buildings that have been empty for longer periods. Reallocation or transformation to other functions such as homes can be envisaged here. In addition, due to the lack of available locations for building homes, corporations and project developers are desperately looking for alternatives. The transformation of offices into homes can also be a good option for this objective. In the current study answers are provided to the questions: how many and which office buildings stood empty in a particular area of Rotterdam; which groups of households can be identified for the transformation of empty office buildings into homes; what is the demand profile of these groups; and with which instruments can the transformation potential of empty or soon-to-be empty office buildings be measured.

Conclusions and recommendations
An important veto criterion for the transformation process is the dovetailing with the council policy; offices in residential areas should in preference be transformed into dwellings. Favourable features such as the availability of parking spaces, a positive ambience and other characteristics of an area suitable for working in increase the chance of renting as office space. Old buildings in the area, a bad net/gross ratio, poor energy performance and structural deterioration are, in contrast, unfavourable factors when renting out office buildings. Buildings with these characteristics are more readily considered for transformation. The type, accessibility and size of the dwelling are of critical importance when weighing up the decision of whether to rent or buy a particular home. Priorities vary between target groups. The lay out of the dwelling and the level of relaxation provided appear to be of secondary importance. People seeking accommodation are more concerned with the distance to a tram, bus or metro stop and a railway station, and less concerned with the frequency of public transport.
A number of test cases have shown that the developed Transformation Meter is a good tool for assessing for specific city areas (step-by-step, from a global to a detailed perspective) what the market supply of empty office buildings is, what the market demand is with regard to target groups and requirements, and the match between the two from the point of view of availability and buildings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)80-90
Number of pages11
JournalOpen House International
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • Transformation potential
  • instrument
  • offices
  • homes
  • living
  • structurally vacant
  • revising

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