Joint interview with Colin Olszak, Astron’s Business Development Manager Car Parks, and Bertrand Chabanne, CEO of OpenBox.
OpenBox Co Design&Build signed a partnership agreement on 30 March 2021 to offer its customers Astron parking solutions.
Building well ventilated multi-storey car parks is an ideal way to free up space, which is a significant benefit at a time when land is becoming increasingly scarce.
Bertrand Chabanne, What do you hope to achieve with this partnership?
B.C - We wanted to offer something new to our customers who work in manufacturing, logistics, loading, distribution or investment. We know that land is a rare and precious resource these days. It used to be less burdensome and much easier to develop or buy, so we used not to have to wonder too much about attaching a car park to a building, and this would inevitably take up considerable space on the ground. But today it is harder to get land to build on. Moreover, because of environmental concerns we are keen to find new solutions for making sensible use of land. That is a factor that all of us – customers and builders – really want to take into account.
Well ventilated multi-storey car parks represent a solution for making the most of land, whether for new building ground or existing sites: by raising the car park, we optimise the available land. On existing sites we can reclaim part of the land used for the spread-out car park and allocate it to something else, such as an extension of the building.
This partnership with ASTRON, who specialise in new generation multi-storey car parks, enables us to provide cutting-edge expertise of a very specific product: ASTRON’s parking solutions are well designed, with simple and efficient flow management and fit perfectly into our sites, whether they are commercial buildings, offices or logistics platforms.
Given the target of zero development on green-field sites, we know that the future will be about doing more with existing land. The same applies to the logistics sector, with which we are very familiar: multi-storey buildings and automation make it possible to produce more with less land.
Why did you choose ASTRON?
B.C - When we started looking closely into the question of car parks for our customers, it was natural that I turned to ASTRON. Teaming up with them was the obvious step because I began my career at ASTRON Buildings. Working with companies that I trust and respect gives our Open Box customers more value and security.
What is more, both our companies share the same vision of partnerships as a way to increase strength for the benefit of the customer. With Co Design&Build, collaboration lies at the heart of OpenBox’s strategy in terms of the relationship with our customers and suppliers. ASTRON provides construction solutions through a Europe-wide network of partners. Our two companies bank on using partnerships to grow.
In concrete terms, how does it work?
B.C - ASTRON is a manufacturer that designs and makes industrialised buildings that we distribute to our customer category. OpenBox remains a special contact throughout the project. We support them with drawing up specifications to cover the whole project. OpenBox alone is responsible to the customer for performance. However, from the outset we work with ASTRON on the design and pricing policy for a tailor-made car park that will perfectly meet the user’s needs (location, size, purposes, etc.)
Detailed design of the industrialised building then begins before it is manufactured in ASTRON’s plants and delivered to the site to be assembled. Assembly is performed by ASTRON-approved assemblers. In addition to the structure, OpenBox is also responsible for all of the associated trades, including road systems, carcassing, electricity and finishings.
As for other operations, OpenBox gives firm commitments regarding pricing, deadlines, service and, as part of Co Design&Build, transparency, collaboration and shared savings.
Do car parks represent a solution for the future?
B.C - Yes, because use of them is changing, adapting. It reflects the major trends of evolving methods of travel. Tomorrow’s car park will be a hub for car pooling, recharging cars, accepting deliveries, picking up and leaving bicycles, connecting with public transport and so on.
We are already working with local authorities on projects based on sharing facilities between various companies, in high-end business parks.
Furthermore, ASTRON’s parking solutions have the benefit of being reversible: tomorrow a car park can be transformed into offices, a showroom or a production plant to reflect a change in the company. For this reason, such car parks represent a solution for the future.
Colin Olszak, what makes your well ventilated multi-storey car parks different?
C.O - Multi-storey car parks are now clearly the most economic solution for companies when compared to underground car parks or car parks under buildings on piles. Beyond the financial consideration, ASTRON wanted to gives its car parks an added value for companies. They are no longer just places to leave cars, now they are spaces for living, as an array of services for workers are concentrated there: sheltered parking, bicycle storage, recharging electric vehicles, collecting parcels, car sharing and so on. There are many services that can be enjoyed to give value to this space.
Our car parks can be adapted to meet our customers’ needs for flexibility: who can say for sure how work, travel and parking requirements will look in the future? With our solutions, we can transform car parks very easily to adapt to changes in your company. And how about using it for temporary events? The roof top could accommodate that very well!
We also put a strong emphasis on making our car parks comfortable to use, ensuring plenty of greenery on the fronts and not using pillars inside so that parking is easy. Each development is unique and designed with the customer.
The car park can reflect the brand by sporting the company colours.
How is the process of building Astron car parks eco-friendly?
C.O - Because we design our car parks to use less energy. 70% of the steel used in our car parks has been recycled. In some cases that figure is as high as 90 %. In addition, right from the design stage we look for ways to optimise the use of material in order to limit the amount of greenhouse gas produced. Less material means less transportation and that is what we want.
What do you gain from the partnership with OpenBox?
C.O - Obviously this partnership is a gateway to industry, particularly logistics, which is a market segment that OpenBox knows well. Beyond that marketing strategy, we share the same long-term vision: we want to work to promote reversibility of land and building uses in the interests of sustainability for our customers.