Developers and investors are increasingly using art to add value to their properties
By Adam Zdrodowski
As the real estate market becomes more and more competitive and the expectations rise for those living, working and shopping in modern residential, office and retail buildings, owners are coming up with new ways of making their properties attractive parts of the urban landscape. Today’s upscale residential and prime commercial buildings are meant to reflect quality and prestige, but also to have a positive influence on the well-being of those using them. The promotion of art in real estate turns out to be a solution that helps address both of those needs.
The trend is visible in both the luxury residential sector and the commercial property market. The No.44-branded rental apartments in Warsaw’s iconic Złota 44 tower feature paintings, prints and collages made by established contemporary Polish artists. Another luxury residential skyscraper located in the downtown of the Polish capital – Cosmopolitan Twarda 4 – is now hosting an exhibition of paintings by renowned Polish painter Wojciech Fangor on one of its top floors. GTC, the developer of the Galeria Północna shopping center in Warsaw that opened for business last year, installed a 24-meter sculpture made of stainless steel inside the mall. The piece of art was conceived by acclaimed Polish designer Oskar Zięta. An artistic installation was also placed on the façade of the newly opened Forum Gdańsk complex. Meanwhile, the patio of Warsaw’s Wola Center office building recently housed an exhibition of the works of students and graduates from the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw.
Pieces of art are also displayed in new public areas surrounding real estate projects. Plac Europejski in Warsaw, for one – part of the Warsaw Spire office complex that was developed by Ghelamco – accommodates an outdoor art gallery called Art Walk. A square lying adjacent to Skanska Property Poland’s ongoing Spark office development in the Polish capital last year housed an exhibition of paintings by Polish watercolorist Tytus Brzozowski. The artist will paint a 35-meter tall mural on one of the buildings in the complex.
Art is being more and more often used as a tool for building the image of commercial property and has almost become a standard when it comes to new prime real estate projects, said Bartłomiej Łepkowski, head of property and asset management at Savills. Despite its ubiquity, the diversity of art allows each property to have its own unique identity. “A distinctive sculpture or other piece of art is engraved in one’s memory and makes a project stand out from other properties, a very desirable thing in a competitive market,” he argued.
Of a similar opinion was Łukasz Mazurczak, director of office operations – property management, at JLL, who said that art is used to achieve business goals, enhance prestige and build the image of a brand that values aesthetics, quality and creativity. He pointed out that in the case of office properties, apart from positively influencing the perception of a company, art is also an important employer branding tool meant to evoke positive emotions among current and potential future employees.
Art is used by both developers of new schemes (where it is often taken into account at the design stage) and owners of existing properties that need to be modernized and repositioned. Sometimes it is tenants who decide that a given piece of art will be featured in their building. Łepkowski noted that companies leasing office space in the Q22 tower in Warsaw (Savills is among them) had been asked to vote for one of three sculptures and select the one that is now installed in the main lobby of the skyscraper (a balancing sculpture by Jerzy Kędziora).
How much money are real estate developers and investors ready to spend on art? According to Łepkowski, the budgets vary and depend on many factors, including the size of a particular property and the phase of the life cycle that the property is in. Expenditure tends to be higher when art is meant to help build the identity of a new building or help change the image of an existing building and support its re-commercialization. Some of the costs are included in maintenance fees and as such are covered by tenants.