Why time-lapse office builds?

The construction of office developments are a popular subject for time-lapse. We consider the benefits.

In big cities especially, new state-of-the-art office builds make up a large percentage of ongoing construction work.

Can of Ham skyscaper under construction in London's financial district
Above: Mace’s ‘Can of Ham’ unique office structure punctuating London’s high-rise skyline.

For a capital city like London, for example, their skyline is changing rapidly. With each new build there is a fierce competition for a place ‘amid the UK’s undisputed high-rise catwalk.’

Although office expansions are a common investment, each new project comes with its own specificities; perhaps in a bid to stand out.

Like Mace’s ‘Can of Ham’ – a major development we are currently capturing in the heart of London’s financial district – its 25mm of curvature and cold-curved glass cladding provides a distinctive contribution to the heavily occupied area.

How is time-lapse suited to these projects?

Versatile in its application, time-lapse photography can bring out the best in each individual project.

High definition images

Whether documenting the external construction, the internal fit-out, or covering several stages of a development, capturing images at regular intervals in high definition can serve many functions for contractors and other stakeholders.

Observing progress made over a period of time can have a remarkable visual impact.

Early stages of the 155 Brook Drive office construction
Above: an office build in its preliminary stages.
155 Brook Drive office on completion
The finished product in full working capacity.









When viewed comparatively, images like these show the essential bare bones of construction which eventually become fully functional office space.

Progress in motion

The true beauty of this medium, though, is that these images have more than one function for construction projects. Typically the hundreds and/ or thousands of images from a completed project are then edited together as part of a time-lapse video which allows you to see progress unfold right in front of you.


As you can see from our time-lapse edit of 10 Wellington Place above, progress of the 3,900 sq ft of Grade A office space takes shape incrementally; that’s 12 months of work unfolding in less than two minutes. The first major office development in the city centre of Leeds for five years, this was a big deal for the city and its residents.

Indeed, office expansions are a common investment in the city but are also an important marker of growth. As well as documenting the construction of new builds in an engaging visual way, time-lapse is also valuable to contractors and city councils in terms of publicising such expansions.

Via our interactive remote imaging system (iRis), live images were made available for public view on the contractor’s website during the build. In addition, the completed time-lapse video was also made available on the site upon completion of the project.

As this shows, such visual solutions serve a useful intermediary function between contractors, clients, and the wider public.

Time-lapse videos can also affirm the capabilities of contractors in ways that other marketing strategies cannot.

A comprehensive narrative

Time-lapse is not only useful in such ways when capturing the external construction progress of office projects. The internal fit-out can be an equally important phase of overall progress.

Putting together interiors often happen across a shorter length of time than the construction of a building, so an increased rate of capture is crucial when tracking periods of such increased activity. Rapid capture time-lapse does just this, providing a much more detailed documentation across shorter time periods.

In order to gain the most ideal perspective of progress, multiple camera systems may need to be in place so as to capture an all-encompassing perspective. Perhaps one camera moved incrementally is all that is needed. It is also possible to use camera functions to zoom in and highlight particular internal details or zoom out to get the bigger ‘finished’ picture.

Additionally, for office builds which require both internal and external capture, time-lapse is able to be implemented in combination with other media. Video, for instance, also produces creative variations in terms of camera angle, proximity to the action and a versatility of movement which can all enhance the completed visual narrative of progress.

Our work for Southampton Freight Services – an independent logistics provider – involved a multi-media approach. Documenting the renovation of their headquarters in Hampshire required both time-lapse and video, covering the processes of remodelling, refurbishment and the final move into the new premises.


Indeed, the combination of techniques made for a dynamic representation of building progress; time-lapse meticulously detailed various elements of labour involved in the fit-out, while the video capture added more of a ‘live’ overview of progress, showing employees in their new headquarters.


So, time-lapse photography is the ideal tool for capturing, documenting, archiving, publicising, and sharing the construction of office builds.

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