Alexei Dal Pastro, Chairman for Covivio, Italy, the biggest and newest real estate company operating in Italy, talks to us about their Vitae project. And how they are responding to new market demands.  

What are the elements that characterise your real estate development?

For Covivio, a leading player in the European real estate market, development is a fundamental growth driver.

Thanks to a strong presence in the office market, mainly in France and Italy, and to our solid track record alongside great customers, we are able to design and offer innovative offices to the market that facilitate the smart evolution of work.

Our offer of flexible, efficient and connected work spaces is seen as a driving force for greater creativity, collaboration and well-being of the users themselves, therefore as a strategic tool for the productivity and growth of our client companies.

Covivio's development strategy is based entirely on sustainability, according to two main guidelines, namely the constant modernisation of their portfolio, to improve the efficiency and comfort of the buildings, and the contribution to the creation of a more smart and livable city, not only with reference to the environmental aspect, but also to social well-being, economic vitality, the sense of community and interconnection between people. Innovation is also the basis of Covivio's positioning and is based on two strategic pillars, i.e. the design of buildings that meet and anticipate new needs, for example co-working and co-living, and the offer of new services, such as digitisation, evolved mobility, and a collaborative approach to planning through an inclusive path that contributes to a higher quality of the project.

About 70% of your real estate assets are already LEED certified and aim to grow in the direction of sustainability. How?

In the Covivio real estate developments, throughout Europe, the new certification protocols are a constant reference, a source of inspiration for cutting-edge environmental design solutions, to the benefit of both individual tenants and entire communities that gather around our spaces.

Currently 100% of the new Covivio office projects consist of sustainable buildings and 67.1% of our portfolio in Italy (market value) has achieved a LEED sustainability certification.

In our next developments international certifications will be adopted such as:

· WELL – which differs from the previous protocols because it concentrates totally on the well-being of office users, in seven different areas: air, water, nourishment, light, physical fitness, comfort and the mind;

· Wired Score – that focuses on the quality of digital infrastructures to guarantee maximum speed and efficiency for future tenants;

· BiodiverCity – which analyses the aspects of urban biodiversity, the environmental characteristics of the site and the ecological potential, developing an action plan on each project to make it more "green."

What are the areas of innovation that are most important to you in the construction sector? What innovation are you looking for?

The sensitivity towards issues related to sustainability and energy and financial efficiency has made it necessary to introduce innovative and digital design technologies. The adoption of Building Information Modelling (BIM), useful for optimising the planning, construction and management of buildings, is increasingly present in our real estate projects.

The innovation that we pursue in the product we make passes through the ability to guarantee maximum flexibility and space efficiency, through the customization of the services that the new technologies and digital applications allow, and through solutions that reduce the environmental impact of the sector.

Innovation for Covivio is also the ability to overcome the traditional frontiers between the various real estate asset classes, putting forward new solutions that allow, for example, to benefit from co-working spaces that offer the same comfort and the same quality of services as the hotel sector or flexible, efficient and digitalised co-living spaces that are like the most technologically advanced office spaces.

Finally, to fuel innovation, Covivio has decided to directly support the development of promising start-ups at various levels of maturity, which design innovative solutions for all the Group's product lines. For this reason, a dedicated structure has been created, Covivio Proptech, which is currently evaluating various investment projects at European level.

From co-working to pro-working with Wellio, soon to open in Milan. How are you approaching this initiative and what are you aiming for?

The emergence of new collaborative attitudes and the "rediscovery" of the value of sharing are now profoundly transforming life and work styles, residential environments and the workplace, exerting a profound influence on the entire world of real estate planning, which aims increasingly to encourage a strong sense of community and allow a synergistic use of space. Covivio, which is active in Europe in the office, hotel and residential segments, wanted to take on the challenge of offering the market a new mix of work, hotel and residential solutions, designing buildings with a "hybrid" soul. With the Wellio brand, a combination of Covivio's core competencies in the hotel and office sector, the Group presents a flex-space offer for pro-working that combines all the comforts and services of hotels with technology and the possibility of using their own spaces in the most modern offices, available not only for large groups, but also for small and medium-sized companies and freelancers.

With four sites already opened and operational in France - three in Paris and one in Marseille - and four new openings in the pipeline, (Bordeaux, Lyon, Milan and Berlin), Wellio offers its customers a high level of space customisation and direct access to all the sites of the European network.

In the Lombard capital, attention is focused on the first Italian Wellio space, which will be built in Via Dante at the beginning of 2020 and will guarantee a unique offer based on a wide range of services: private offices, co-working, meeting rooms, spaces for events, food, loyalty programmes, training, in line with Covivio's approach, focused on the customer and his or her needs.

Almost six months have passed since the transformation of ‘Beni Stabili’ into Covivio.    How has this operation strengthened you?

2019 was, and will continue to be, a year of very intense activity for the Group, which, after the first year with our new Covivio name, saw the transformation of the company into a leading European real estate operator. The market has rewarded our strategy based on expansion in the main European cities that are particularly dynamic and open to new challenges, Paris, Milan and Berlin, the constant improvement of the quality of our portfolio, the focus on the customer and his or her needs. The improvement in operating and financial performance has confirmed that we are moving in the right direction. In Milan, where 73% of our country's assets are concentrated, the goal remains to accelerate projects under development, continuing to actively participate in the redevelopment of cities, and laying the foundations for the city of the future.