FIT-OUT OF WORKPLACE (LARGE PROJECTS)

 

National Winner / Winner Midlands & East Anglia
BBC Mailbox, Birmingham

BBC Mailbox

Client

BBC Property

Tenant/Occupier

BBC Birmingham

Project Manager

Dearle & Henderson

Quantity Surveyor

Frost Associates

Architect

Building Design Partnership

Interior Designer

Building Design Partnership

Space Planning & FFE Consultant

iDEA

Mechanical & Electrical Engineer

Building Design Partnership

Structural Engineer

Building Design Partnership

Contractor

Interior Exterior (ISG) plc

Investor/Property Company

BBC Property


Greg Dyke's influence still lingers in the way BBC offices and studios are being transformed across the UK. Three very different and excellent examples have won awards this year from the BCO, ranging from local television and radio studios in Hull to the massive Media Village in White City. The best of all entries is The Mailbox project in the heart of Birmingham.

To appreciate what has happened it is important to understand the key reasons for moving from the iconic Pebble Mill headquarters to what was essentially a giant box, although The Mailbox scheme itself is a clever and groundbreaking project with enough presence to regenerate, along with Brindleyplace, a whole district of Birmingham. Firstly, the BBC needed new facilities to reflect a revolution in working practices. Multi-skilled staff have evolved from discrete studios to working across radio, television and the web. Close-knit project teams form and dissolve with blinding speed, so flexibility was essential. But just as important, everything had to be geared to 'engage and interact' with the public.

The Mailbox base space was far from normal and the BBC made a courageous stand to go to this mixed-use wonder. The success of BDP as Architect and Engineers and iDEA as Space Planning and FFE Consultant can be measured against the challenge they faced from Mailbox's mail sorting office ancestry. The standard of fitout is very high; all elements display imagination, but also great discipline. It could have been frightful: instead it is great. The building is full of dynamism and light. A sense of openness is created by vast internal spaces, carried outwards by cutting huge windows across the front of the shell. Extra space was conjured from thin air by floating mezzanine 'gondolas' within the hangar-like shell. Over a narrow band, they reduce ceilings below BCO standards but this has been overcome on the upper level with a clever 'wavy' ceiling making the most of space and hiding existing structure and environment-friendly chilled beams.

The office space has been made to work very hard, with dense tables for programme production rapidly re-deployed for each new team. The judges were impressed that staff numbers had been increased by 100 while the usable area had reduced from 255,000 sq ft at Pebble Mill to 95,000 sq ft. at Mailbox. Adding the mezzanines created the unusual ratio of 142% net to gross.

The whole project is a good sustainability story. Although green options were restricted by working within an existing shell, increased natural lighting, passive chilled beams and solar shading acknowledge the green agenda.

This is a bespoke and specialised product and, due to its nature, was not cheap, but that does not take away from the success of this scheme. The judges considered that the solution exemplifies the BBC's willingness to embrace the culture and dynamics to promote change, increase efficiency and to provide a stimulating workplace. With notable civic responsibility, the achievement of this environment within an existing building is remarkable. A most worthy Best of the Best.


Winner North of England, North Wales & Northern Ireland
BBC Project, Hull

BBC Project

Client

BBC

Tenant/Occupier

BBC Radio Humberside

Project Manager

Stephen George & Partners

Quantity Surveyor

Gleeds

Architect

Studio Baad/Land Securities Trillium

Interior Designer

Studio Baad

Mechanical & Electrical Engineer

Land Securities Trillium

Contractor

Banner

Investor/Property Company

Earthquake Properties

Developer

Manor Property Group


This is a marvellous example of how a dull modern building can be shaken by the scruff of the neck into an exciting office development, which reflects and stimulates the business of the occupier.

The BBC needed a new home for Radio Humberside which exemplified its new open policy and took the brave step of moving into part of what was intended as a block of flats above a two-storey bar. With a very limited design budget, it has been transformed into a bright and brilliant landmark which not only shouts its presence to the public but invites them in to see for themselves.

And they have responded in droves. The revolving doors may soon need extra lubrication, after use of public space exceeded all expectations with 100,000 visitors in the first year, urged by the BBC to make it their own and drawn by access to new technology, views into radio studios and a great welcome.

The doors certainly will not need to deal with staff going in the other direction. The enthusiasm of the staff for their new, vibrant workspace was palpable, which despite the tight budget, makes inventive use of high quality materials and lighting. New ways of thinking abound, such as using their amenity area to double as a meeting room, without excluding the pinball machine and table tennis table.

The fit-out is being carefully maintained, because such intensive use is made of the whole facility. This is an outstanding scheme, which took invention and energy to new heights in solving a demanding brief.


Winner London
Clifford Chance, 10 Upper Bank Street

Clifford Chance

Client

Clifford Chance

Tenant/Occupier

Clifford Chance

Project Manager

GTMS

Quantity Surveyor

Northcroft

Brief Consultant

Gensler

Architect

Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (Intl) PA

Interior Designer

Gensler

Mechanical & Electrical Engineer

Hilson Moran Partnership

Structural Engineer

Yolles

Contractor

Canary Wharf

Investor/Property Company

Canary Wharf

Developer

Canary Wharf


Spectacular may for once be too limited a word for the way Clifford Chance has equipped the towering new HQ at Canary Wharf. This is corporate fitout on a grand scale with little expense spared. There are hugely generous spaces in areas such as the various reception floors and staff facilities that would outdo any top class offices. Yet Gensler was given a clear brief that quality and design should match the status of this international legal firm. There was also a powerful subtext that businesses like this are only as good as their staff. Something very special was thought to be needed to draw them out of the former City HQ into London's Docklands.

Despite the opulence and impeccable workmanship, the building still reflects a strict and intensely competitive business ethos. Everything is ordered and highly controlled. Staff are rewarded by excellent working and support facilities with a superb restaurant, squash courts, and a swimming pool.

Although heavily cellularised, the standard floorplates are well laid out and fairly flexible, with a well designed furniture system. Secretaries have been given quieter areas which face the main circulation route, but can still enjoy spectacular views because fringe offices are heavily glazed.

The IT functionality is impeccable in the workspace overall, of course, but the use of technology reaches new heights in the way it allows adjustments to lighting and the environment. Again, this reflects not just an ethos of control, but the value attached to individual staff. They may be under pressure to perform in this competitive workplace, but receive every help from the fitout.


Fit-out of Workplace (small project)

National Winner / Winner South of England & South Wales
Farleigh Court, Flax Bourton, Bristol

Farleigh Court

Client

The Harmsen Group

Tenant/Occupier

The Harmsen Group

Project Manager

The Harmsen Group

Quantity Surveyor

Mildred Howells & Co.

Interior Designer

The Harmsen Group

Structural Engineer

David Edwards & Associates

Contractor

The Harmsen Group


It is ironic that modern working techniques have been introduced into what had been the stage for the worst of the past. Farleigh Court is a former workhouse left to crumble for more than a decade before restoration. Despite a dark history, the listed building is magnificent, and The Harmsen Group has used its skills as a workstyle specialist to bring new life to an austere inhuman relic.

This is a tiny building, but that does not takeaway from its achievement; the judges saw a delightful fitout of a 3 storey period building to provide effective workspace, with a prolific number of work settings in such a small area. Many new design ideas have been attempted and many have succeeded.

Basic, confined spaces have been cleverly opened up to provide visual and acoustic interaction between the three levels via tricks such as glass panels set in the floors and holes punched in staircase walls. The entrance atrium links the building vertically while balconies jut out like crows nests, allowing informal connection between floors.

The place has a sense of order and control taken to the highest level of rigour, reflecting both the client's teachings about new ways of working and its own practice of those techniques. The design floor benchdesking is designed for team working and doubles up for hot desking. Wireless technology and networked PCs mean staff can work seamlessly from any position. Remote access also means they can work outside the building or from home. Not all was perfect; the glass screens cutting off private meeting areas looked great but had little acoustic value.

The ground floor is more informal, with flexible space for seminars, meetings, shower and a kitchen. This was crucial to the move out of central Bristol, where break-out space would have been difficult and expensive to provide. It is also powered for overflow desk space if needed.

The judges were impressed that what could have been a series of boxes had been integrated into flowing spaces, with visual design always on the agenda. The scheme was also excellent value, as the building had been worked hard to provide capacity for 22 staff.


Winner North of England, North Wales & Northern Ireland
1 Dock Street, Leeds

Dock Street

Client

No. 1 Dock Street Ltd

Tenant/Occupier

Morgans City Living

Project Manager

Design Group 3 Architects

Quantity Surveyor

Richard Boothroyd & Associates

Brief Consultant

Design Group 3 Architects

Architect

Design Group 3 Architects

Interior Designer

Design Group 3 Architects

Mechanical & Electrical Engineer

Wheatley M&E Services Ltd

Structural Engineer

CoDa Structures

Contractor

Irwins Limited

Investor/Property Company

No. 1 Dock Street Limited

Developer

No. 1 Dock Street Limited


The estate agency client for this sliver of regeneration on a strategic site in the heart of Leeds is called City Living, which is entirely apt considering the aim was not just to restore an abandoned set of buildings next to the river but to inject an abundance of vibrancy and life.

Openness is the key. Generous glazing merges the space into the street while extensive remodelling carries this through complex and awkward spaces inside. There is a physical demonstration of what the firm calls its close connection with the home-buying public and a dedication to open, integrated team working.

This has produced bright and welcoming spaces out of neglected and dingy premises. The client's ethos of mobility by relying on use of laptops and a clear desk policy, which frees the whole area of clutter, presents the office as a stage behind the large street-level glazing for passers-by, particularly at night. Funky lighting and lively sculpture animate views in from the street. There is a delightful experience in the rear workspace, where doors open directly onto the river.

Each building has different window arrangements to provide both open and cellular offices, ranged over first floor and basement. Bold shades and colours were limited to ensure working areas remain calm, and maximum use made of simple materials and finishes. Multi-purpose space below ground floor provides multi function space for industry/community events and staff breaks.

A worthwhile regeneration project. While the project was not cheap, it has brought an injection of freshness, colour and revitalisation to this city centre location.