REFURBISHED / RECYCLED WORKPLACE

 

Winner North of England, North Wales & Northern Ireland
Vanilla Factory, Liverpool

Vanilla Factory

Client

Urban Splash

Tenant/Occupier

Various inc. Urban Splash

Project Manager

Urban Splash

Quantity Surveyor

Gerrard O'Donnell

Architect

Shed K.M.

Mechanical & Electrical Engineer

Progressive Services Design

Structural Engineer

Roy Billington

Contractor

Urban Splash

Developer

Urban Splash


Millions of sq ft of space lies empty on the upper storeys of town centres across the UK. The Vanilla Factory challenges this waste. Urban Splash is renown for restoring old industrial buildings to residential. This conversion of an old warehouse and the former Liverpool Palace sometimes feels more like loft apartments, but works well as office space.

The developer also has experienced creating design-led commercial space in this vibrant regeneration area and saw demand for small offices for creative industries. The judges gave a rare perfect score for enterprise - with effectiveness and value for money not far behind.

Image, comfort and performance also nudge the top rating. It manages the often impossible task of rescuing an important part of the city's heritage, performing as a modern workplace and lifting the spirits. Tenants have come to a similar conclusion, as the scheme was 90% let within months of completion.

Several old buildings have been united with a new infil section creating a single entity with one main entrance in the heart of the important RopeWalks area, establishing a well managed, secure working environment.

The scheme successfully integrates floor levels between the buildings and provides well designed, individual sub-lettable work space while retaining many original features. These spaces fit well with the existing structure and offer numerous combinations of floor area to accommodate businesses and larger more established organizations. Wide corridors between office spaces provide a feeling of space, and cleverly integrated services add interest. It may well be a location of transition though. With growth in size and sophistication, many tenants would eventually have to leave this delightful environment for larger and probably more conventional offices.

The minimalist fitout brings out the elegant but strong character of the Victorian buildings. While there is no BREEAM assessment, the scheme provides an excellent environmental statement by tapping into the embedded value of buildings, rather than taking the easy path of stripping them away. Tenants love the atmosphere, while Urban Splash moved its own Merseyside office there earlier in the year.


Winner London
Government Offices, Great George Street

Government Offices

Client

HM Customs & Revenue

Tenant/Occupier

HM Customs & Revenue

Quantity Surveyor

Atkins, Faithful & Gould

Brief Consultant

GTMS

Architect

Foster & Partners

Interior Designer

Foster & Partners

Mechanical & Electrical Engineer

Waterman Gore

Strcuctural Engineer

Waterman Partnership

Contractor

Bovis Lend Lease

Investor/Property Company

The Exchequer Partnership

Developer

Stanhope plc


This national gem has been transformed from fusty old government offices to a vibrant new workplace. A great achievement.

This building complex is in the awards list again although this entry is a different project. This is proof enough that PFI need not just be fodder for Private Eye sneers. Stanhope and Bovis Lend Lease formed a thoughtful partnership with Fosters and with the backing of English Heritage have polished the former Treasury building into an even brighter gem and attracted new tenants, Customs & Excise and the Inland Revenue.

The risks were enormous; with no tenant guaranteed. A cost driven, unimaginative approach could so easily have ruined these buildings, but great care has been taken, such as renovating hundreds of windows rather than replacing with modern frames. One reservation is that the splendid courtyard is used for parking rather than for people.

New elements include linking buildings each side of the courtyard by an extra floor and walkway. The extra floor, perhaps, could have been naturally ventilated to match the high BREEAM rating. However, lessons learnt from the earlier project include a refinement of the air-handling approach. More space came from covering old lightwells, while cellular offices were opened up without damaging historic ceilings and panelling. This has not always produced a comfortable relationship, particularly where new furniture meets historic d├ęcor, but the overall balance is commendable. The lighting is exceptional and integrates with extra brightness from converted lightwells and some sumptuous use of colour. An uplifting refurbishment that shows the Government can get it right when it forms the right partnerships.