Polus Towers. Turning old premises into new offices

The two Polus Towers were among the very first Class A offices in the Bratislava office market, and are familiar landmarks for everybody in the city. By refurbishing the Polus Towers, the Austrian investor and developer, IMMOFINANZ, wanted to ensure that the buildings continue to deliver Class A standards for many years to come. TECHO was entrusted with the role of general contractor for the achievement of this objective. 

74m
height of Tower I
19,440m2
floor area in Tower I
83m
height of Tower II
22,400m2
floor area in Tower II

From shell & core

The fit-out that TECHO Slovakia took on involved taking the Polus Tower I and Polus Tower II back pretty much to shell and core, and performing a complete new fit-out of building infrastructure, including installation of lifts, air-conditioning, cabling etc. This stage did not include office interior fit-outs/furnishing. This would be arranged by the individual new tenants, but performance of the building fit-out put us in a strong position to also deliver these.

The investor’s concept was to renew all the Class A infrastructure of the towers, and create a modern environment that promotes a work-life balance - a concept that blue-chip tenants now see as essential for attracting and retaining the best staff.

Why was TECHO Slovakia, a company known primarily as a supplier of commercial interior furnishings, chosen to manage this project, a project far removed from simple office interior delivery? The Slovakia team successfully argued that TECHO would be more sensitive to the investor’s objectives than a construction company. Our advantage was that we had previously fitted-out offices in the Polus towers; we knew the environment and this helped us arrive at a realistic price for the reconstruction. Our interest and determination were also decisive in us being appointed general contractor for the project.

Rastislav Navrátil
Project engineer

From my perspective it was an excellent example of the connection between participating parties. Cooperation and joint efforts gained a new significance for me where the ant-like work of individuals working together resulted in a great piece of work. As they say, where there’s a will there’s a way.

The greatest challenge was a bespoke steel staircase in the lobby, and delivering cooling units to the roof by crane.

We started work on the project in June 2014 and work on site started in March 2015. In October 2015 we finished and handed over the project – a remarkably short time for such an extensive project. Most house renovations take considerably longer!

Our task was to be the conductor of the whole operation, with tens of subcontractors working in time to our “baton”. For the most part we were free to select our own suppliers, as long as the installed equipment/fittings met the strict standards set out in the client’s brief. An exception to this was the client-specified COMPASS PLUS elevator system from the OTIS elevator company. This was the first installation of its kind in Europe. Across both buildings there are a total of ten elevators.

Other interesting features are the “living walls” that act as a backdrop to the reception areas in the POLUS Towers. They include an integrated watering system and artificial lighting that keeps the wall alive. The steel staircase in the reception of Tower I represents a form of industrial art work. Because of its size, this staircase was welded and grinded in situ during installation.

And what about challenges? Well on a project this size there were many, but it was our job to address them without having to involve the client. One of the main purposes of a fit-out project is to keep the client worry free. The most notable challenge was installing the state-of-the-art cooling system, which utilises chilled beams.

The main cooling units had to be placed on the tower roofs at heights of 80 and 85 metres respectively. How was this achieved? Well originally we planned to use a helicopter at a price of some 10,000 EUR per hour. However, after some research we decided to use highest crane in Central Europe for this task (so high the approval of the Civil Aviation Authority was necessary for its use).

This cost half of what it would have cost to use a helicopter. When the stakes are high, we find the right solution!

It doesn’t matter how big the project is you are working on, what is important is who you are working on it with.

Rastislav Navrátil
Project engineer

I really appreciated the teamwork and the willingness to help one another other out. I only saw any room for improvement with regards to the overworking of individuals who were put under great pressure from all sides. This only increased my admiration for the people at the “front line”. When working with them I came to the conclusion that it doesn’t matter how big the project is you are working on, what is important is who you are working on it with.

Interesting facts

1.

The reconstruction of the POLUS Towers was carried out during their operation. There were tenants in both buildings.

2.

Raising the chillers to the top of the POLUS Towers (80 & 85 metres high) was done using the highest crane in Central Europe.

3.

The use of COMPAS PLUS technology by the OTIS elevator company was first of its kind in Europe. Together there are 10 elevators in the towers.

4.

The steel staircase in the reception of Tower I represent a kind of industrial art work and these stairs, because of their size, were welded and grinded in situ during their installation.

5.

A living wall forms the backdrop to the receptions in the POLUS Towers. They are equipped with an integrated water delivery system and artificial lighting to help them flourish.

6.

The cooling beams used in both buildings distribute the air in a more natural way - friendly to its surroundings.

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