Loft Offices – Eccentric and Efficient

The word “loftâ€? comes from an ancient Anglo-Saxon term meaning ‘lift’ or ‘raise’. The dictionary provides the following definition: “open space on the upper floor of a house, directly below the roofâ€?. In older times, the word ‘attic’ (‘Attica’ = ‘the highest’) was a synonym for loft, but recently the two words have grown increasingly different in meaning, especially in connection with facilities (primarily industrial) that have been converted into flats and offices. Today, the idea associated with ‘loft’ is a clear reference to areas utilised in a rational way.

The idea of converting factories and warehouses no longer used for their original purpose into loft offices and loft homes was born in England, specifically in Manchester and Liverpool in the 1970s. The signs of a decline in the English textile industry had already appeared in the 1920s. Ever since that time, the industry has failed to fully recover and has been characterised by a series of bankruptcies and plant shutdowns. Between 1971 and 1981, 50,000 jobs were lost in Manchester alone, mostly due to the inflow of cheap goods from the Far East. In the meantime, new business segments had emerged, taking up the slack in the demand for labour and soothing the pains for Manchester. However, the situation was worse in the case of Liverpool. The end of the colonial era and the emergence of large container ships sealed the fate of the port docks, which were until then characterised by a concentration of plants and warehouses. Due to mass factory shutdowns, these properties were available well below the market price. Even with the sometimes substantial renovation costs and in spite of the weakness of market demand, it was possible to make profitable investments. The recovery later brought a renewed increase in the population, and traditional residential areas soon encroached upon the boundaries of industrial zones. Subsequently, the rationality of using loft properties for residential and office purposes became more and more evident. These loft buildings, which were gaining ground not only as residential and office units, but also as leisure and entertainment venues, became more and more popular in London and other British cities as well as in the USA, Germany, and the Netherlands.

In Hungary, loft projects began to appear within the last 5 years. The renovated leather factory in Újpest, upon the initiation of private individuals, became the home for the MEO Contemporary Art Collection. Foreign investors found a new function for the old textile factory (later used as a chemicals manufacturing plant) at the end of Bocskai út: they converted it into a 27,000 square meter office complex named Dorottya Udvar. Even though the segment is quite narrow and the target group is difficult to define, demand for loft homes is huge. A few months ago, in recognition of the insufficient supply, a British investment firm launched a project for loft homes at the northern end of the wharf on the Pest side.

It is under the auspices of a Hungarian investment group that the next loft office building in Budapest will be implemented. On the Pest side of the Lágymányosi Bridge, between Könyves Kálmán körút and Máriássy utca, (an area easily accessible by car or by public transport), the former Veal Market Hall will be converted into the Máriássy Loft. The building, which was erected in 1927, will be modernised in line with today’s needs; the stylish reconstruction of the historic hall will provide a first-class 3,200 square meter office area. The internal height of the hall is divided by an internal gallery/loft section, and the windows running along the mid-section ensure that both office levels are supplied with sufficient natural light. The corridor in the middle also benefits from windows, allowing for bright common areas. In addition to having bright spaces with a sizeable internal height, the building is exceptional in its use of the area available, offering 6-7 square meters of office space per person without creating a crowded feeling for those who work there. In terms of office use, the developer essentially targeted two segments: companies seeking cost-efficient solutions for their call centres or back offices that require a single large office space, and enterprises that prefer individualised and fashionable offices that utilise the option of shaping their office space to suite the image of the company. Máriássy Loft can also offer an excellent alternative for companies that are looking for a showroom or a combined office/trade facility in a property that is visible, clearly identifiable, and which represents significant publicity value due to its unique character. Máriássy Loft offers flexible alternative solutions; it is in a position to provide maximum satisfaction even for non-standard requirements – creativity is the only limit to the ideas that can be developed. In addition to the fact that their space and layout permit optimal use, loft office buildings and loft homes convey a certain feeling, a personality. At the same time, the large internal space that can be divided and arranged according to our wishes generate a feeling of freedom.

Róbert Takács, Head of Offices Division