JLL inspires connection and community in one of Dublin’s newest neighbourhoods
Our Future Studio team ensures Coopers Cross, a mixed-use campus in Dublin’s North Docks, is a space with soul
Coopers Cross, Dublin
Social value at the heart of the strategy
1 million sq ft
Coopers Cross has everything a new urban quarter might need: nearly 400,000 sq ft of high-quality commercial floor space, 471 new homes, and the largest public park in the area. In total, this is a one million square foot development driving an estimated GDV of over 700m euros. It’s being designed with the highest sustainability targets in mind.
The mixed-use campus is being developed by Kennedy Wilson, who aim to transform Dublin’s North Docks in much the same ways as their Capital Dock campus reinvigorated the South Docks a few years ago.
But impressive as the plans are, there’s one challenge at Coopers Cross that still needs to be met, and it’s why Kennedy Wilson sought JLL’s specialist expertise. In short, Coopers Cross has a perception problem.
To be fair, it isn’t just Coopers Cross. Dublin’s Docklands Strategic Development Zone is home to an impressive array of financial and technology businesses, as well as the employees – many from abroad, many young – who work there. But it can feel like a sterile, rather soulless environment. It looks like somewhere to work and rest, but not to linger, mingle and play.
And that is certainly the impression the original residents of the area have. They are a lower-income group, with less connection to the gleaming glass office blocks that dominate the skyline.
If they don’t exactly feel excluded from new developments on the old docks, they certainly don’t feel welcome. That gives rise to a “them and us” mindset, which works against the sense of social cohesion that well-designed mixed-use developments – like Coopers Cross – should foster.
Kennedy Wilson wanted Coopers Cross to be different, and the design has much to recommend it, both as a place to live and work, and as simply an inspiring place to be. It will be a place of sustainable buildings, creative spaces, and exciting retail and hospitality opportunities.
JLL’s Future Studio team was brought on board to improve and communicate that vision. Future Studio is our trends team. It works to inspire bigger thinking around the potential of large mixed-use developments. It helps clients understand the trends that shape the urban landscape.
We were appointed towards the end of the scheme’s design phase, with a wide remit. We were asked to think strategically, testing the scheme’s assumptions, identifying deficiencies, and recommending improvements.
We knew that the perception of Coopers Cross needed to be about more than good buildings and green space. The development needed an identity. In our vision, Coopers Cross would not be just another office campus by the sea: it would be a place for work, wellbeing and connection.
We were tasked with helping to create an engaging and welcoming environment for prospective occupiers, and the people who already live in the area.
How JLL helped make it happen
We looked at everything. Where we found gaps in strategic thinking, we produced new proposals. Our report recommended a series of strategies – around social value, wellness, cultural placemaking, meanwhile use and customer experience – that would help bring the scheme’s wider appeal to life and share it with prospective tenants, occupiers and neighbours.
Working with the client’s appointed creative agency, we worked to create a better brand. That was no easy exercise. It needed to appeal to contrasting demographics and show that, while Coopers Cross is certainly a high-quality business campus, it is much more besides.
The client loved our vision, and Future Studio was retained to lead the delivery of all marketing and act as a guardian of the brand experience.
The brand strategy is now informing all our plans around wellness, community cohesion and placemaking. Fundamentally, they will promote Coopers Cross as an inclusive neighbourhood with a green core, and a place that uses the latest smart building technology to reduce carbon footprint and promote new connections among employees, visitors and residents.
We’ll use cultural engagement to build bridges with the local community and show the district as a welcoming space, proud of its history. We’ll inspire future occupants with the vision of a vibrant and well-connected campus within walking distance to the heart of a great city.
Our plans for meanwhile use aim to test retail concepts, build authenticity and draw visitors as the development evolves. It’s an experimental phase, which will make sure the final mix of culture, engagement, leisure and retail at Coopers Cross meets the client’s objectives.
One of those objectives is to create trust with the local community. At JLL’s recommendation, the client has appointed a Head of Culture to help engage and inspire both local residents and Coopers Cross occupiers.
The Future Studio team has embedded new thinking around culture, social cohesion and inclusivity into the DNA of this ambitious development.
We are confident that our work will benefit Coopers Cross in a number of ways. At an economic level, it will differentiate the project from competitors and drive quicker leasing and better returns.
It will do so by helping to create a vibrant, fully functioning neighbourhood, rather than a sterile collection of office blocks. Community, connection and wellbeing will be at the heart of the project, leading in turn to better occupier experiences and more satisfied tenants.
And we’re engaging the local community, building trust, and promoting the campus as a place for everyone. Inclusivity will be crucial to its appeal. You can certainly live and work in Coopers Cross, but if you just see it as somewhere where you can take a stroll through the park, enjoy a bit of window shopping or grab a coffee, that’s fine too.
This is a shared vision. It’s much more than just leasing space. Together, JLL and Kennedy Wilson are bringing vitality and liveability back to a Dublin district and - in doing so - helping to bring a community together.