Shanghai-based flexible office provider Distrii opened its first overseas location today in Republic Plaza in Singapore. The 62,000 square foot centre was opened the same day that the two-year-old company announced a new joint venture with Singapore’s City Developments Ltd, which owns the landmark office tower, to develop smart office and building applications in Southeast Asia.
“With Distrii opening its first international centre at CDL’s flagship Republic Plaza in Singapore, we are delighted to deepen our strategic partnership with Distrii to create the next milestone in the evolution of smart buildings,” CDL Group CEO Sherman Kwek said in a statement.
CDL Welcomes Flexible Office Partner to Singapore
The six-storey co-working centre was opened as part of an ongoing partnership between Distrii, which was founded in 2016 by former Greenland Group executive Dr Hu Jing, along with a team of mainland real estate executives, and the Singapore-based developer. CDL first partnered with Distrii in January 2017 when it invested RMB 72 million (then $10.5 million) in return for a 24 percent stake in the mainland firm.
In September of that year, CDL made a further commitment to its flexible office partner when it joined a RMB 200 million investment round by Distrii, which also included mainland developer Jingrui.
Now Distrii is aiming to take its co-working-inspired approach to office leasing and management Asia-wide, after setting up some 30 mainland centres across Shanghai, Beijing and Hangzhou.
“We are honoured to be in this strategic partnership with CDL as this has hastened our entry into the international market,” Distrii’s Hu said in the joint statement. “Merging both the online and offline physical space allows us to bring our vision of being the smart office solution provider to greater heights.”
Setting Up an Internet of Things-Powered Office
In his remarks, Hu emphasised the potential for the Internet of Things to reshape both employee experiences of the workplace and the business of managing offices.
“No matter what co-working provider you are, we are all exploring the future of work,” Hu commented. The Distrii founder, who employs his own tech team for developing office solutions in China, emphasised the ability to add flexibility to the workplace while also boosting team productivity, by harnessing smart apps to give better access to office facilities and improve communication within and between offices.
The new Distrii Republic Plaza is the single largest co-working facility in Singapore, according to the partners, and includes 900 work stations, as well as private offices and customisable team space.
The centre’s event hall accommodates up to 200 people and the space connect directly to a ground floor outlet of popular German burger chain Hans im Glück.
During a media tour members of the Distrii team demonstrated how the company’s smart phone app gave access to meeting rooms, teleconferencing systems and other office facilities for both independent co-workers and the company’s corporate tenants.
Distrii Part of Republic Plaza Revamp
Creating a high-tech flexible office space within Republic Plaza also fits into CDL’s plans for a revamp of the 1995-vintage commercial tower. With Kwek, who is the son of CDL chairman Kwek Leng Beng, having officially taken over as CEO at the beginning of the year, the new company management has plans to refresh the firmware for Singapore’s second-tallest building.
“The addition of Distrii and its tenants will also inject fresh vibrancy to not just the building but also the Raffles Place precinct,” Kwek said in the statement. “We are combining CDL’s real estate capabilities and Distrii’s technological prowess to introduce a whole new level of possibilities that will up the ante on smart workplaces for the future.”
With Distrii’s centre in the lower six floors of the 66-storey tower set to open in July, CDL is planning to incorporate its partner’s tech innovations into the rest of the building, as a way to keep Republic Plaza up to date and add value for tenants.
The partners are also planning to market their office management solutions to other landlords in the region as a way to improve rental returns and better utilise existing space.