Is there such a thing as a strategic building? The word strategic is nowadays used inappropriately with buildings. Strategic seems especially a good selling synonym to make something seem more important or in the sense of smart trading. Because of this ‘wrong’ use of words, the essence is no longer clear. Opportunities are missed to allow accommodation to contribute to the realization of the business strategy.
Strategy is about the content, the higher goal, the long-term policy that is being pursued. It takes up such an important part of an organization’s resources over a longer period that other alternatives are excluded. Its importance and scale make a strategic decision essentially irreversible.
“You can still execute the tactic as well, but if the strategy is not good, it won’t work.” (René Stevens)
Tactics are about the means, they are the small steps in the implementation of the strategy. Strategy takes place on the map, tactics are the actual battle on the battlefield. But there is also a trade-off, you can still execute the tactic as well, but if the strategy is not good, it won’t work.
In the case of a tenant, there is no great burden on the resources, nor is there any irreversibility. Moreover, lease contracts usually have limited terms. A building and its location are therefore ‘only’ tactical means for a tenant: steps to implement the business strategy.
For a project developer, a building is only a tactical means of realizing his business strategy of short lead times, minimal use of own resources, low purchasing and high sales. In the case of an investor or owner/user, due to the large demand on resources and the long(er) term that the buildings remain in the portfolio, these buildings are often strategic.
The built environment is more than the sum of buildings with (public) space in between and human and economic interests. A built environment is a collection of people with desires and needs. Current spatial planning mainly looks at the collection of buildings and public spaces. People are mainly seen as the paying consumer to get the land exploitation closed. It requires careful handling of the space because what you make will be there for decades and perhaps longer. The built environment is an element of our contemporary culture. Some of it even eventually becomes our cultural heritage. These interests and their size mean that buildings are often strategic for society. This is a great responsibility for those involved in the creation and use of our built environment.