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HB Reavis has been given planning consent for its latest Budapest office project, the 138,000 sqm Agora Budapest in the ever-fashionable Váci corridor; construction has now started on the first phase. The name is taken from the ancient Greek for a “gathering place” or “assembly”, and refers to the main square and center of civic life in the Greek city-states. It emphasizes the provision of public spaces in the design of the development, according to HB Reavis.  

Agora will consist of five office buildings distributed around three public squares. Once completed it will deliver 136,000 sqm of office space and 11,000 sqm of retail area, and has been designed by the London-based Make Architects and Hungary’s Finta Studio. The long-term, phased development project is scheduled for eventual completion in 2023 and will offer space for 12,000 staff. 

“The main goal for us when designing Agora was to deliver a scheme that fits into the texture of the city but at the same time brings modern new architectural value to the city. An equally important aim for us was to deliver a new work and leisure destination,” said Zoltán Radnóty, CEO of HB Reavis in Hungary, at a presentation of the project.

In the first speculative phase of the development, Agora Hub will deliver 34,500 sqm of office space and 6,000 sqm of retail and service space on eight levels; it is due to be completed by the end of next year. HB Reavis hopes to gain planning permission for the second phase, Agora Tower, this summer.

Around 12 Budapest office developments are planned for delivery in 2018-2019, however in the current market environment a significant proportion of this space is thought likely to be pre-leased before delivery. Radnóty expressed confidence that Agora will be successfully let due to the quality of the space, its location and the provision of spaces of up to 4,500 sqm.

WELL Building Standard 

HB Reavis expects to obtain BREEAM “Outstanding” certification for the project, along with the relatively less-well known “Platinum” WELL Building Standard from the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI), a public benefit corporation whose mission is to improve human health and well-being in buildings and communities across the world, and was established in 2013. “I would say that BREEAM relates to the sustainability of a building while the WELL certification system looks to improve the well-being of users of an office project,” comments Radnóty.

Agora will provide electric car charging points, now commonplace in HB Reavis developments, in addition to bicycle storage provision and changing facilities.

The first Budapest office development by HB Reavis, the 21,000 sqm Váci Corner, was delivered in 2014 and subsequently sold to Zeus Capital Management for a reported EUR 55 million. The development company was founded in Bratislava in 1993 and now operates in, Hungary, Czech Republic, London, Poland, Slovakia, and Turkey. The company says it currently has one million sqm at the construction, planning or permitting phases. In Warsaw, it has started construction of the 140,000 sqm Varso Place that includes a 230-meter tower, making it one of the tallest buildings in Europe.