COMMERCIAL WORKPLACE

 

National Winner / Winner South of England & South Wales
National Air Traffic Services Corporate and Technical Centre, Whiteley

NAtional Air Traffic

Client

National Air Traffic Services

Tenant/Occupier

NATS (en Route) Limited

Project Manager

Arlington Development Management Ltd

Quantity Surveyor

Davis Langdon

Brief Consultant

Jonathan Edwards Consulting

Architect

Aukett Fitzroy Robinson

Interior Designer

Pringle Brandon

Mechanical & Electrical Engineer

IEI and Hoare Lea

Structural Engineer

Peter Brett Associates

Contractor

Waring Contractors Ltd

Investor/Property Company

Arlington Business Parks Partnership

Developer

Arlington Development Services Ltd


This is another example in the BCO Awards of the way property can be a tool to help transform the culture of an organisation. The National Air Traffic Service [NATS] is a necessarily secretive organisation, dealing with the technology that controls flights over the UK. The new Corporate and Technical Centre could so easily have been an anonymous, mundane fortress for technical people but Arlington's brief was to meet far more demanding requirements for efficiency, flexibility and light, bright working conditions over three connected buildings on its Solent Business Park.

The development still reflects its use: rigorous engineering, calm and controlled fittings and the highest standards of security. But it also boasts generous staff provisions such as a gym, restaurants and rest spaces. The judges called the offices 'exemplar workspace', meeting the brief for lightness and colour but still making maximum use of floor space, with layouts that helped express the new culture of openness and communication.

Nor has effort been spared on the exterior, where solar-shaded glazing is punctuated by panels imported from Germany. The compact cluster of buildings maximises the rural woodland setting and includes breakout garden spaces and water features. But it all has a hard economic foundation, as the development was designed to institutional standards via the BCO specification and can be sub-let by building or even by half-floor. Build cost and fit-out were carefully controlled from the beginning, so the success of the end result is evidence that a sophisticated and high quality solution can be achieved without resorting to over-full budgets.

NATS is not a standard type of occupier, wanting to use the building in line with its own specialist requirements. This was known from the beginning of the design process. As a result, the design team and the developer had to create a building that would suit NATS, yet would succeed in achieving a compliant and flexible commercial solution. It meets these sometimes conflicting criteria well. This is a calm and sophisticated solution that has left NATS very happy with the overall outcome.


Winner Scotland
Gyle Square, Edinburgh

Gyle Square

Client

Highland Properties Ltd

Tenant/Occupier

NHS National Services Scotland/Pfizer

Quantity Surveyor

CBA

Architect

Michael Laird Associates

Interior Designer

Michael Laird Associates

Mechanical & Electrical Englineer

K J Tait Engineers

Structural Engineer

FaberMaunsell

Contractor

HBG Construction Ltd

Investor/Property Company

Superminster Ltd

Developer

Highland Properties Assets (South Gyle) Ltd


This building proves that it is possible to produce a successful and efficient commercial building under a tight budget. Highland Properties showed great enterprise by using the existing slab and piles of a 1980s research and development building to create almost 150,000 sq ft of modern, air-conditioned offices. It shows how a brownfield site can make economic sense by thinking outside the box.

Higher ceilings and extensive glazing provide a comfortable well-lit interior. The building offers unusually large floor areas, but the use of two cores, asymmetrically placed, additional escape stairs and four toilet blocks permit easy sub-division. The building has provided a most satisfactory new home for NHS National Services. The more upmarket Pfizer fit-out shows just how good it can be.

The judges had some reservations, however, that lower priority has been given to other aspects of sustainability. Gyle Square meets the BCO specifications and scores well on the environmental aspect of reusing existing foundations. The design team carried out its own energy assessment, but offered no formal BREEAM scoring.

The central courtyard is a strong potential feature let down by its hard and soft landscaping design and treatment of the roof service enclosures, leaving a questionable image.

It was risky, restricting layouts to an existing grid on old foundations. But the original piling contractor was brought in to provide a warranty and Michael Laird Architects have produced a building which meets today's market, confirmed by the fact that it is fully let, with large floorplates and built-in flexibility, at well below the normal price.


Winner North of England, North Wales & Northern Ireland
1 Hardman Boulevard, Manchester

Hardman Boulevard

Client

Allied London Properties

Tenant/Occupier

The Royal Bank of Scotland

Project Manager

GTMS

Quantity Surveyor

Gardiner & Theobald

Brief Consultant

Sheppard Robson

Architect

RHWL

Interior Designer

Sheppard Robson

Mechanical & Electrical Engineer

Waterman Gore

Structural Engineer

Capita Simmonds

Contractor

Sir Robert McAlpine

Developer

Allied London Properties


Back offices are often distant outposts set far from the places where their huge workforces live and play. Royal Bank of Scotland made a conscious decision to reverse that trend, and Hardman Boulevard epitomises the policy to provide high-class working conditions in friendlier locations across the UK.

It was apt to choose Spinningfields, where developer Allied London has taken a brownfield site in central Manchester and created its own commercial centre. It is a huge enterprise, showing what can be achieved by close co-operation between planners, developer and tenant.

The massive building projects a powerful image across the new centre. It is a pity that the site does not allow a more spacious setting for such a large building to allow it to make its full impact. Inside, a more human scale has been addressed by breaking up the space with a grand central and additional atria. The large floorplates are also flexible enough for subdivision if a requirement for multi-letting emerges in the future.

Some parts of the building are flooded with light and offer good aspect but others fall below this high standard, particularly towards the rear of the building. The excellent ambience, which is central to RBS' policy for the chain of back offices across the UK, is often but not always reflected in the completed building.

The development claims good 'green' ratings and the provision for lots of bicycles is commendable, but again the judges would have liked to see a formal BREEAM assessment.

The building makes a major and largely successful contribution to the regeneration of central Manchester.


Winner Midlands & East Anglia
The Core Building at Brindleyplace, Birmingham

The Core Building

Client

Argent

Tenant/Occupier

The Royal Bank of Scotland

Quantity Surveyor

Faithful & Gould

Architect

Porphyrios Associates & Sidell Gibson

Mechanical & Electrical Engineer

HBG Design Ltd

Structural Engineer

HBG Design Ltd

Contractor

HBG Construction Ltd

Investor/Property Company

The Brindleyplace Limited Partnership

Developer

Argent Estates Ltd


This is another of Royal Bank of Scotland's innovative schemes to create a new standard of city-centre, back-office developments across the UK to accommodate a combined workforce since the takeover of NatWest Bank.

RBS could easily have dismissed Birmingham's Brindleyplace as too restrictive, despite offering the central-city, integrated mixed-use development welcomed elsewhere. But developer Argent showed great enterprise to meet the requirement for 26,000 sq.m. of office space. This final piece in the regeneration jigsaw linked two unbuilt buildings to an existing one.

The technical complexities were huge. The central building has residential space on upper levels, another had been started speculatively and the basement and foundations for the third completed. The development team had to adapt designs to provide level floors throughout, linking three independent blocks and provide access and fire escapes for the combined space. At the same time the individual buildings' differences in external elevational treatment were retained, reducing the perceived overall mass in the context of Brindleyplace as a whole.

Clever use of links have created contiguous floorplates of 3,700 sq metres yet each core still has a sense of place in the larger whole. Leasing has also been structured so the buildings can be separated if necessary for sub-letting in future.

Perhaps the finished building could have been more inspiring. It remains to be seen whether staff will judge the working conditions as of the highest standards.

Yet developer and tenant are to be commended for an innovative scheme within severe constraints which scores well on BCO benchmarks and for the confidence to publish the results of a BREEAM inspection.


Winner London
Davidson Building, London

Davidson Building

Client

Derwent Valley Holdings

Tenant/Occupier

LECG

Project Manager

Buro Four Project Services

Quantity Surveyor

Davis Langdon & Everest

Architect

Lifschutz Davidson

Mechanical & Electrical Engineer

Arup

Structural Enginner

Arup

Contractor

YJL

Developer

Derwent Valley Holdings


Derwent Valley has a reputation for thoughtful and inventive conversion of older buildings into modern use, and this is no exception. Such a tired Edwardian block might normally be demolished, however Davidson House is in the heart of Covent Garden's conservation area, which brought huge challenges.

They have been met in a clever and fresh way. The elegant façade has been held in place with discreet stainless steel tensioning ties while the space behind was cleared for modern offices. Differences in window and floor levels was overcome by a 'slot atrium' rising to full height and topped by a glass roof reproducing the profile of the former mansard roof.

But there are some doubts about the dominance of the atrium and its role if cut off when the building is multi-let. There is a disappointing sense of separation with the floorplates to Southampton Street, where the retained façade plays such a prominent role in support of the urban grain.

The rear elevation more than met its challenges, however, which mainly involved covenants restricting the appearance to match white glazed brick of the neighbouring Strand Palace Hotel. A glass façade gives a modern interpretation of the requirement, but the Lifschutz Davidson designs went a step further with openable patio-style windows that vary the texture and give occupants local control of their environment.

Internally, two rows of steel columns per floor enabled slabs to be slimmed, which has allowed an extra floor, adding to the score for value.

The development did not apply for a BREEAM rating, yet the development team has obviously given high priority given to sustainability. This includes the thermal stability of exposed concrete sofits and displacement air relying on natural convection.