Newly-established real estate investment firm IQON, founded by industry veteran Giovanni Gregoratti and MIT professor Carlo Ratti, has finalized its first deal with the acquisition of Vodafone’s global headquarters in the UK. IQON aims to match design, finance, and sustainability to shape the office of the future – one that can meet the challenges of changing work habits, technological advancements, and the climate crisis.
The office complex will be transformed into a business and innovation campus. Based in London, UK, IQON is an innovative real estate company that puts design, technology, and sustainability at the core of the investment process. The company proposes an alternative to most traditional firms in the industry, driven by today’s changing working habits and environmental challenges. IQON aims to be a leading force in the evolution of the office in the post-Covid world.
Global lockdowns have shown that the Internet alone is not an adequate replacement for the physical workplace in sustaining dense and diverse human networks. Research by organizations such as Microsoft and MIT points out that remote work, if implemented exclusively, can threaten the vibrancy of our social networks. Against this backdrop, IQON pledges to create mixed-use workplaces that foster interpersonal connections among co-workers, facilitate the flow of innovative ideas, and reach carbon neutrality goals.
“Incentives for architecture and capital are often misaligned. This is why we decided to launch IQON as a joint venture linking the worlds of design and finance, in order to improve the sustainability of today’s office stock,” comments Carlo Ratti: “It is crucial that design expands its focus and joins forces with professionals from different fields. When we talk about urban transformations, we cannot ignore the powerful role of finance. With IQON we want to leverage it to realize designers’ goals of creating a better world.”
Giovanni Gregoratti added: “The vast majority of existing offices in Europe are at high risk of obsolescence and do not meet the sustainability standards required by tenants, investors and lawmakers. With this backdrop, IQON’s unique combination of design, innovation and investment expertise is a key driver of investment value creation and represents a competitive edge over traditional investment firms which are not prepared for the structural shift that the market is experiencing.”
On 23 January 2023, IQON Capital announced the acquisition of “The Connection” business campus in Newbury, UK, from Vodafone with plans to upgrade it into a world-class business, science and innovation campus. As part of a sale and leaseback, Vodafone has entered into long-term leases on four of the seven buildings at the site confirming its commitment to Newbury, the historical birthplace of the company.
IQON has closed the acquisition of The Connection business campus for Aljazira Capital, a Saudi based investment firm, with Oval Real Estate acting as Asset and Development Manager. Located in Newbury, Berkshire, the campus comprises seven office properties which have served as Vodafone’s UK headquarters since its construction in the early 2000s. The seven properties have a net internal area of 486,810 sqft (45,226 sqm) and are set on 38 acres (15 hectares) of landscaped grounds.
Vodafone sold The Connection as part of a sale-leaseback transaction whereby it will continue to lease four properties for its UK headquarters for the long term. Since 2022, Vodafone has implemented a new blended working model for its 10,000 UK employees which includes a combination of home, site and field-based working, shifting the company’s traditional office space to become hubs for co-workers to interact in person. Source and photos Courtesy of Carlo Ratti.