CORPORATE WORKPLACE

 

National/Regional Winner South of England and South Wales
Roche UK New Head Office, Welwyn Garden City

Roche UK

Quantity Surveyor

Clarus pcm

Brief consultant/ architect/interior designer/structural engineer

Building Design Partnership

Fire consultant

Faber Maunsell

Construction manager

PCM

Access consultant

REEF Associates

Cladding consultant

Emmer Pfenninger Partner AG

Transportation consultant

MVA

Initial brief consultant

Henn Architeken

Building environment engineer/sustainability/ landscape architect

Building Design Partnership


Companies rarely get the chance to revolutionise the way they work - perhaps once in a lifetime. Creating a new HQ is often the best hope, and healthcare giant Roche grasped this opportunity with both hands when it centralised from 37 buildings into one in Welwyn Garden City

The outcome was not just a platform for 21st century efficiency but an outstandingly elegant, dramatic and environmentally friendly building.

The place is full of contradictions. It is massive some 22,000 sq. metres - yet intimate and friendly. It appears at first as just another unassuming low-rise addition to Shire Business Park, yet the sense of drama rises via a long ramp past water features to a spectacular double-height entrance befitting a national HQ.

Surprises continue inside, with massive 90m long floors enabling whole departments to be ranged across a single level. Yet, as Roche says, individuals never feel a loss of identity. And no-one is more than 7.5m from natural light.

This love affair with light begins with clever use of oval shaped ceiling openings in a solid entrance roof over the entrance which gives greater sense of enclosure than a fully glazed one. They flow through to an internal day-lit street, producing a seamless continuity between outer and inner worlds.

The street contains meeting rooms, café, gym and other support services, off which the three fingers of office space are arranged.

More surprises are in store as visitors realise the entrance is on the middle floor. This gives equal access to what is actually a three-story building. A whole extra level emerges below through use of a sloping site, although the generous use of light and colour ensures this is no dingy afterthought.

Floors float off open, shallow-pitched stairs. Glazed meeting rooms line one side of the street, their transparency emphasising the open atmosphere demanded by Roche. Extensive timber cladding, windows and fittings add to the air of calm informality which stretches throughout the building.

Gateways through a spine of services on the other side of the street open into breathtakingly massive floors. This is the real revolution, as Roche switched from 100% cellular offices to almost full open-plan. Yet break-out areas in the atria along with settings designed for team working break up the space to human proportions.


Regional Winner Corporate Workplace Scotland
Royal Bank of Scotland Headquarters, Edinburgh

RBS

Project client/owner

The Royal Bank of Scotland Group

Project manager

Mace

Quantity surveyor

Doig & Smith

Brief consultant

Michael Laird Architects

Architect/interior designer

Michael Laird Architects/RHWL

M&E engineer /structural engineer

WSP

Contractor

Mace

Investment/property company/developer

The Royal Bank of Scotland

Ancillary buildings consulting engineers

SKM Anthony Hunt/Fulcrum


When a building is rated 'close to faultless' yet is still edged out of a national award, you begin to appreciate the strength of the entries and the difficulty judges faced this year. This distinctive new complex was another close contender for the UK's best development after bringing together best practices preached by the BCO over the last decade. From the superb entrance, to the street, the office floors, the boardroom, every space, every detail shows consummate skill stemming from the quality of the brief and the designers' excellence.

It has a grandeur and quality befitting the HQ of one of the world's largest banks, yet does not stray into the ostentation or opulence that led to reappraisal of so much development of the past.

Despite the huge 37,000sq metre size, it does not dwarf people. Seven office wings open off a central street. People meet and mix in this vibrant and exciting link lined with shops and cafes. 'You always feel you know where you are,' said the judges. Unlike some developments, however, the complex is not totally inward-looking. Everyone has views of parkland and trees because the scheme is so well integrated into the landscape.

The new HQ closely follows BCO best practice specifications and was given full marks for quality of design and construction plus an excellent BREEAM rating. Again, a good deal of benefit was achieved by off-site fabrication. The whole package is great value for money, said the judges. The ultimate judgement always comes from users, however, and it was obvious that staff take great pride and pleasure in their new home.


Regional Winner Corporate Workplace North of England, North Wales and Northern Ireland
Offices for the Health and Safety Executive, Bootle

Office SHSE

Project client

Health and Safety Executive

Owner

Bootle Accommodation Partnership

Project manager

Kajima Construction (UK)

Quantity surveyor

Gardiner & Theobald

Brief consultant

AYH

Architect

Cartwright Pickard Architects

Interior designer

Kajima Design Europe

M&E engineer /structural engineer

Buro Happold

Contractor

Kajima Construction Europe UK

Investment/property company

Bootle Accommodation Partnership

Developer

Kajima Developments


This is another massive building which has been broken down to a human scale by creating individual blocks opening off a central glazed atrium. To a certain extent it was necessary to create this kind of internal working environment, as the new headquarters is within a housing area. The exterior is for this reason muted, but this belies a wider significance, as centralising 1500 staff here is a brave attempt to help lead regeneration.

As a development under the government's Better Public Buildings brief, it naturally has a high BREEAM score, helped by features such as well-designed engineering, manually-operated windows and automatic displacement ventilation. Even the fire strategy was carefully thought out, departing from established rules to match the special needs of the centre.

The project had to make allowance for a public role, with a drop-in centre for visitors. New working methods were another key demand. The aim was to make communications between departments easier than when scattered around six former buildings but retain identity through the same number of blocks linked via open vistas and stairways.

The H&SE has already noticed a difference. Separate 'tribes' of staff in former buildings seemed reconciled to inefficient, uncomfortable conditions and did not interact, it said. Now they are enthusiastic, communicate better and feel appreciated because of the better environment.

Another benefit emerged from the fact that the development was carried out under a PFI model and it was apparent that close collaboration between the service provider design team and occupier has delivered an excellent workplace and value for money.


Regional Winner Corporate Workplace Midlands and East Anglia
New Technology Institute, Birmingham

New Tech 1

Project client

University of Central England

Project manager

Mace

Quantity surveyor/planning supervisor

Gardiner & Theobald

Brief consultant /architect/ interior designer

Sheppard Robson

M&E engineer /structural engineer

Arup

Contractor

Shepherd Construction


Development within the Eastside regeneration area was led by the University of Central England for the New Technology Institute and the Learning and Skills Council. The requirement was to create a first-class, sustainable working environment embracing the BCO guide and careful briefings by the occupiers.

The decision to locate the new building within this area was commendable, as it demonstrated the viability of the location and provides a benchmark for future local office, technology and learning accommodation. A coherent masterplan for the area would have helped the building contribute more positively to the public realm.

Integration of training accommodation at ground floor with clear column free office space above has provided highly functional and innovative use of space. Much of the building followed the increasing trend to raise build quality by off-site prefabrication.

The sustainable attributes of the building are also commendable, with mixed-mode natural ventilation including exposed concrete soffits, metal grills and brille soliel for solar shading, and internal compartmentalisation to capture heat and recover energy. The building goes quite a way towards providing a sustainable solution but also seeks to stay very much within a comfort zone of institutional acceptability. It is a shame, therefore, that it did not boast about this by seeking a BREEAM rating.

Overall, this is the best of its kind within the Midlands area and would have scored higher but for a few reservations, with design quality having been compromised through the design and build contract.