Singaporean workplace design firm Space Matrix has its sights set on expanding in China, where it expects to see a healthy supply of office space in major cities and opportunities in the Greater Bay Area. In September last year, Space Matrix acquired Muraya, a China-based design and construction company. Muraya has since been rebranded as Space Matrix China. “[This acquisition] was a way to get into the Chinese market aggressively. From here on, we hope to increase our presence in Shanghai and then into other markets within China,” said CEO Arsh Chaudhry. Since the acquisition, the company has delivered several office projects in China to clients including Airbnb, Tower Research, and Ascendas-Singbridge. Worsening US-China trade war hits Hong Kong’s office rental market Over the next two years, the supply of office space in China’s tier 1 cities is expected to be high and is likely to be accompanied by low vacancy rates. While the US-China trade war is causing some global companies to adopt a cautious approach in their real estate strategy in China, local Chinese firms have continued to grow aggressively in their home market, says Chaudhry. In addition to Shanghai, the company is eyeing other cities in the bay area including Shenzhen and Guangzhou, where many technology start-ups are setting up. Projects in China are expected to be proportionate to the company’s projects in the Indian market in terms of revenue generation in the next few years. The company says its revenues are expected to grow to US$165 million this year, with about 45 per cent of that coming from its businesses in India. “I’d like Space Matrix to focus on growing in China, whether through organic means or by more acquisitions in the future,” said Chaudhry. “Certainly over the next 12 to 24 months we want to focus on Northeast and Southeast Asia, before looking to expand further into Europe or the US.” Meanwhile, Singapore will remain a key market for the company, which has seen strong growth in servicing the growing number of tenants moving into various office spaces. Indonesian co-working space operator take space vacated by troubled Chinese rival “Singapore has the full profile of office offerings as an Asian gateway city – from affordable spaces in suburban business districts like Changi and Paya Lebar, fringe areas such as one-north, to ample space in the core CBD area,” said Chaudhry. From conventional to flexible work spaces, office design in Singapore has increasingly come to incorporate digital elements, says Chaudhry. “This means we must consider the role of technology and how it is playing a part in office design today. Increasingly, our services and advice to clients not only include the physical design, but also help them ensure their spaces are fully utilised from a digital perspective as well.” To this end, the company has formed a workplace technology team that is focused on delivering integrated digital solutions to its office design projects around the world. Chaudhry said: “The role of the workplace technology team is to work with our designers and clients to suggest the right kinds of tools and technologies that should be put in place in their offices to enable them to create a ‘more digital’ experience.” He emphasised the importance of creating a digital user experience as opposed to adopting new technology and tools. When clients first approach Space Matrix, the first factor the design firm considers is the employees’ experience, he said. The technology is then adapted according to whether the client has a co-working space or a conventional office. Some technologies Space Matrix has rolled out for its clients include interactive collaborative screens with real-time annotations, presentation-board solutions with inbuilt wireless presentation and conferencing software, and a visitor management system with facial recognition to eliminate front-desk registration. The focus on digital experience comes on the back of Space Matrix’s plans to expand its reach in new markets. The 18-year-old company started from a small shophouse in Singapore and, to date, it has more than 14 offices in key cities in Southeast Asia, Australia, China, and the US. Its clients have included global corporations like Prudential Insurance, Coca Cola, and Ascendas-Singbridge.