A competition for a Government department HQ in the North West of England. The building type was not new for us, having completed a similar project in Tunbridge Wells some years before. The plan solution is the so called North European office building - a series of simple office floor plates joined by shared courts and internal streets. This typology, developed by Scandinavian and German architects, is an admission of the social and lifestyle aspects of the work environment. A series of connected office buildings are linked by an internal street with opportunities for meetings, eating or leisure activities. This type of office plan is both energy efficient and a highly effective work environment where knowledge and ideas are encouraged to be shared.
The competition shows the 40,000 sqm facility with a collection of buildings of different sizes to reflect the phasing and departmental requirements. Entry is controlled by one secure point but if each building is used by an independent department, or indeed an unrelated tenant, each building can have an access directly from the surround car park. Energy requirements are reduced from traditional offices, using the street as a buffer, and renewable energy is proposed by an on-site wind generator. Cooling was by a labyrinth of underground air cooling ducts.