If only: David Weatherhead of HOK

If only London’s empty office space could be used to fix to its housing shortage, says David Weatherhead of HOK

Is the future of the office residential? With more people deciding to work from home, and more companies looking to optimise their rental space and becoming increasingly workplace savvy, a lot of real estate is now sitting unused.

Currently across London, there are an estimated 1.3 million sq m of unoccupied offices. That would be around 1 km x 1 km of floor space if represented as a single-storey building. Stack that space in blocks, and you have the highly conceptual opportunity to imagine eight x 300-storey towers, each 1km tall, vividly representing the unused potential that lies within our existing building fabric.

Coming down to earth, that’s enough space to create a potential 20,000 affordable homes, based on an average 50 sq m sized flat. That number of new flats would, incidentally, more than help in getting the estimated 8,000 homeless people off London’s streets.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all real-estate projects had an inherent flexibility of design that would smoothly facilitate such necessary changes in the future?


David Weatherhead

David, who has designed a variety of projects across the world, joined HOK in London in 2016 as a senior project designer and is now one of the practice’s London design principals. He has spent 15 years as a practicing architect in London, led his own practice in Sweden and also worked in San Francisco.

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