Capital Mill erects a truly special landmark in Maakri district. What does it contain? Which previously shunned clients are now welcome?
Capital Mill, that invests the money of a number of foreign and domestic investors in real estate, bought the Maakri 30 property last year. It was the only one in the neighbourhood with a valid detailed plan. Capital Mill’s CEO Igor Mölder told Ärileht that they decided not to build a regular high-rise building, but something special. Mölder and the company’s Head of New Developments Marko Uueda described what makes their building so special.
Capital Mill is a well-known developer of interesting and unique buildings. Their Navigator and Explorer, built in the port area, have been adorning the Tallinn cityscape for some time by now. Both are built to be very energy-efficient and visually pleasing. Exceeding what a Class A office building should embody. “One does not always have to think of the money only, because we want to do something special”, says Mölder.
The Maakri quarter is in a prime location. This is what fascinated the Capital Mill team. They had been looking for some time for a chance to do something special again. Even now, there is an interesting mix of buildings in the area, but in the future, it will be an even more exciting place after the entire development activity finally gets going.
Skyon with its 26 floors and 2 underground parking lots will be a building that offers positive surprises. Even the appearance of the building is one that stands out in the cityscape. “Something like this has never been built in the Baltic countries before. The façade solution will be novel and remarkable. In Scandinavia, similar ideas have been applied, but not much. The glass surface is in a good balance with the opaque wall portions, ensuring plenty of light for the offices while being energy efficient. The architectural peculiarity is the result of combining glass surfaces of various shapes with opaque coloured wall portions,” explains Mölder. Glass is in terms of energy efficiency an “evil” material because the more glass surface there is, the greater the need for heating and cooling the building. Skyon’s solutions are of such a high class that a LEED Gold level certificate is being applied for the building. This is a label of excellence in the field of energy efficiency. Only their own Navigator has a LEED Gold and Explorer LEED Platinum. The latter is the absolute top result.
Obtaining a LEED certificate
A high-rise building does not have to be LEED certified. The requirements for its application are tough, and it is a significant expenditure as well. By now, Capital Mill has repeatedly gone through this process. Mölder says that this is certainly not some kind of “buying a piece of paper”. Very thorough control is applied at every step. After the end of the construction, it will take up to six months before the certifier makes its final decision. Very different requirements will have to be followed, e.g. the construction organization, construction techniques, the choice of materials, solutions that increase the comfort level of the working environment and offer added value, the indoors climate and innovative solutions.
All of this means that the office building should be with top-notch internal environment. Uueda says that in a good office environment, attention is not diverted to the surroundings and one can focus 100% on work. One has to feel comfortable and pleasant. If disadvantages associated with the workplace start taking up one’s attention, the efficiency and result will significantly suffer.
Investments, which could have been omitted
Skyon stands out with its high spacious lobby (11.5 metres high) that reaches through three floors. One will not find something of the kind in Tallinn. The lobby is adorned with an artificial rock and a big LED screen. This makes the life in the lobby more interactive. Although such a solution eliminates a considerable amount of revenue-generating space, it increases the building’s softer values and makes it different.
Mölder and Uueda talk a lot about the elevators, which the very slender tower has as many as four. They could have used fewer. However, because small companies are expected to be the users of the office building in general, traffic can become so intense that a smaller number of elevators would mean more waiting, and more stress. Elevators are three times faster than in the Navigator. It looks like a seemingly pointless fact, but actually is a very important fact. There is less time and stress involved.
Capital Mill’s earlier buildings pay a lot of attention to cyclists. This is also a part of the LEED certificate prerequisites. It is important to support the possibility of using environmentally friendly transport. Therefore, there are bicycle parking lots, dressing and washing facilities in Skyon as well. After all, it is not particularly pleasant to sit behind the desk being all sweaty after biking.
In addition, riding a bike is a considerable alternative for someone working in the centre of the city, as parking spaces are scarce. There will be space for 42 bikes in Skyon’s underground parking lot. There are plenty of parking lots in the neighbourhood, but it is clear that public transport or bicycles are more affordable and sometimes also faster. What will happen if the Maakri quarter starts developing fast? Then many of today’s pay parking lots will disappear and the pressure gets even bigger. There is no alternative than to adopt the love for bicycles, which is popular in the Scandinavian countries.
Thought has been given to the idea of providing employees with the possibility to use the stairs in the building leading from the parking lot to the heights in order to test and develop their physical capabilities. Thus, it is a good change for people in sedentary jobs to gather their required number of daily steps on the stairs.
Shunned companies as clients
As already mentioned above, Capital Mill does not wish to produce another conventional product. Since office buildings are being erected in Tallinn at an insane pace, it is necessary to differentiate. It was decided that Capital Mill would offer space also to smaller businesses that need space only for four to six workstations. In addition to smaller businesses, Skyon also welcomes medium-sized and larger companies. For the latter, superposed spiral staircases have been designed in the building to join floors. The second to fourth floor of the building are substantially larger than the tower section and therefore especially suitable for companies that need more space. In the tower section, the floor surface area is 302m2. The higher the floor, the nicer the views of the cityscape. The highest floors offer particularly good views of the cityscape and the sea.
“A small client is often inconvenient for developers. It is necessary to build partition walls and corridors. Our building’s tower part starts from the fifth floor and allows efficient planning of offices. We can provide solutions ranging from 34m2 to offices that extend over several floors. Up to six small office spaces on a floor,” described Mölder. In addition, fully furnished office spaces can be rented. Each office has its own toilet and an optional kitchenette. It is very difficult for a small company to find space that would be smaller than 100 square meters but modern at the same time.
“In a new building in the city centre, you are lucky, if you can find office space of e.g. 80…100 square metres for a team of four to five with the price of 16-17 euros per square metre. You are forced to take a much bigger office than actually needed. In Skyon’s offices, the cost per workstation is significantly lower in this comparison. Also, the total amount of secondary costs is smaller for Skyon’s more compact solution,” says Uueda.
Capital Mill decided that they would not set the price for Skyon’s smaller offices according to the square metre but according to the number of workstations. The exact price has not yet been established, but preliminary estimates show that the price of one workstation is starting from 200 euros.
“We acknowledge that this is not a simple project. Smaller rental surfaces are accompanied by more activities and a greater workload. However, we can offer new, interesting and convenient solutions for those who have missed them so far,” says Uueda.
It is a smart building, which contains also, for example, CO2 sensors and HVAC control according to the time and the north-south direction. This is done in order to dispense adequate amounts of air and to avoid using excessive amounts of energy for heating and cooling the building. Openable windows are not needed in such a building with modern technical systems because the different filters and sensors make the air in the building cleaner than outdoors, the air volumes are sufficient and temperatures can be adjusted. The situation would become worse if windows could be opened, sacrificing energy efficiency and indoor climate quality, noise levels would rise and the balance of the fine-tuned systems would also be disrupted.
Negotiations are already in progress regarding floors 6 and 7. Active sales have only just begun. At the same time, designing process is still under way. We have submitted the construction permit application to the city. “We hope that the city’s mills grind at a reasonable speed, so that we could get the construction permit in the autumn. Then we can already break ground,” says Mölder in conclusion.
Maakri district saga
Igor Mölder says that unfortunately the Maakri quarter area is an underdeveloped area in modern Tallinn. The city’s position is that the developers should reach agreements and then they will process the detailed plan. “We know that everyone has their own ambitions and agreements are often difficult to reach. This is the biggest problem. I cannot even predict how long the situation will remain like that. Certainly, nothing will change in the near future. The interests of the parties are too different,” explains Mölder.
He hopes that, perhaps, the city has some ideas on how to process the Maakri quarter piece by piece, but he does not know what the city’s opinion is.
Capital Mill would gladly take actions on broader scale in the Maakri district. They have thoughts for cooperation, but it is still too early to talk about it and, as already mentioned, everything that takes place there is very slow. They do not dare to buy a property that has no established detailed plan.
“There have been those who have been waiting for over a decade there. We would not like to be next. The detailed plan of Maakri quarter can take another 10 years. These mills grind for years.”