Soil Association

An innovative prototype HQ Building

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Location: Bristol

Client: The Soil Association

Status: Unbuilt

Designscape came second in a European wide competition for the new £20m headquarters for the Soil Association on the Harbourside site in Bristol. The design sought to put the building users first and create a healthy and respectful workplace which would reflect the core values of the charity: A work environment for ‘free range’ employees. The proposal demonstrated a holistic approach to environmental design by minimising energy usage, using low embodied energy materials and maximising the passive energy potential of the site. This was an opportunity to design a prototype office building fit for the future and the ideas generated are relevant to many situations. We look forward to putting these into practice in future projects.

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Clarks Head Quarters

Working within a historic factory complex

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Location: Street, Somerset

Client: C&J Clark

Status: Concept Design

Key Materials: Cast iron, Steel frame partitions, Leather

We have been appointed to undertake a number of projects for Clarks Shoes at their Head Quarters in Street, Somerset. These are located within historic former factory buildings, from which Clarks once manufactured their famous shoes. Optimising this space for current and changing workplace activities has been an ongoing project for Clarks. We have produced a masterplan considering the phased redevelopment of underused sections of the estate for new uses and buildings, including conference suite, meeting rooms and office space.

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Seco Tools

New Headquarters

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Location: Bourges, France

Client: Seco Tools AB

Status: Completed 2014

Key Materials: Aluminium Composite cladding, Larch cladding, Brise Soleil, curtain walling

Seco Tools are a tool manufacturer based in Sweden with more than 40 subsidiaries around the world. Designscape Architects were appointed as part of the Seco Tools Global real estate team, in conjunction with workplace specialists Wylde IA to design a replacement to the existing office administration block at the headquarters of Seco France. The existing building, built in the 1960’s was suffering numerous building failures to structure envelope and services. We designed the building to allow for phased demolition and development of the site whilst the existing offices were in occupation. Re-positioning the office accommodation next to the production space also provides an opportunity to better integrate departments, staff and company culture. Seco see the benefits of creating a positive flexible working environment for their staff and customers and have sought to reflect the company’s core values of open and friendly working, client commitment, dedication and expertise in their building facilities. Designscape’s design was developed by the in-country team and is currently under construction.

Designscape have also provided architectural advice; master planning, concept, through to construction design information for several other European sites including; Budapest Hungary and the HQ facility in Fagersta Sweden.

Designscape are an integral part of and foundation of our commercial projects as we look to modernise out global facilities. They understand our people and support development of the environments we need now and into the future.

Paul Hipkins, Global Project Manager, Seco Tools AB

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The Praedium

Spencer Back with Angus Meek Architects

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Location: Bristol

Client: Crosby Homes

Status: Completed 2005

Designed for housing developer Crosby Homes, The Praedium includes 17 townhouses and 95 apartments arranged around common landscaped spaces and existing mature trees. The contemporary scheme occupies a brownfield site bordering two Conservation Areas. The townhouses, arranged in two terraces are of prefabricated timber frame construction. The apartments, clustered around 5 services cores are constructed within an in-situ, flat slab concrete frame and sit above a car park partially excavated beneath. While a Director at Angus Meek Architects, Spencer was responsible for the concept and planning design, tender and construction information provided through to completion.

'Highly Commended' at the National Home Builders Design Awards 2006.
Shortlisted for the RIBA Town & Country Design Awards 2007.

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Accordia

Chris Mackenzie with FCB Studios

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Location: Cambridge

Client: Countryside Properties Ltd

Status: Completed 2008

Chris Mackenzie was part of the Feilden Clegg Bradley team that designed the Stirling prize winning “Accordia” housing project in Cambridge. FCB designed a radical master plan with Grant Associates (landscape) and included buildings by McCreanor Lavington and Alison Brooks Architects. Chris worked closely with the main contractor of the other practices in the team, coordinating the designs and delivering the first phase.

Highly Commended at the National Home Builders Design Awards 2006
Shortlisted for the RIBA Town & Country Design Awards 2007

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Study Trip 2019

Curbing our carbon footprint

Having signed up to the Architects’ Declare climate manifesto earlier this year, being mindful of our carbon footprint we decided against taking flights for our 2019 study trip and headed for some creative inspiration closer to home. Our much anticipated annual study trip is our time to team build, add to our professional development and inform our architectural design thinking. 

Invited to visit the renovation of the historic Flaxmill Maltings in Shrewsbury, we made this the starting point for a packed programme of art, history and architecture, from medieval Shrewsbury to Birmingham, “the Workshop of the World”

Worcester

So we all piled into the minibus, and set off on a promisingly sunny afternoon up the M5 to Worcester and our first stop The Hive, designed by our neighbours at FCB Studios. Unusually this building combines both University and Public Library. Sunlight glinted on the seven unique cone forms comprising the roof (inspired by the kilns of the historic Royal Worcester works and the undulating ridge of the Malvern Hills) and was reflected by the golden scales of the cladding. We were impressed by the fantastic sustainability credentials and the beautifully calm interior of concrete and ash.

Study Trip 2019

Shrewsbury

By the time we arrived in Shrewsbury it was getting dark and just in time for the most atmospheric night walk from the Castle at the top of the town down to the river through the narrow medieval alleys, and streets lined with lovely Georgian townhouses. Our guide was Alistair Godfrey, who would be taking us around the Flaxmill Maltings the next day, and his knowledge of Shrewsbury and its quirkier side was fascinating.
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The next morning we met Alistair at the Flax Mills. Alistair is project director for English Heritage and he told us all about the renovation before we donned hard hats to explore the separate buildings that make up the site.

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It was a real treat to see how the world’s very first metal-framed building was being brought back to life and to learn about the history of the mills through the industrial revolution from Flax mill to Maltings from such a knowledgeable source. So a huge thank you to Alistair and we look forward to a return visit on completion.

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Walsall

The bright lights of Birmingham beckoned but we felt we couldn’t pass Walsall without dropping in on the New Art Gallery, designed by  Caruso St John. Even though it is now almost 20 years old it remains an exciting contemporary structure. Spencer was impressed:

“I really liked the Walsall art gallery, it was wearing really well, the patina of use seemed to be improving it – some really intriguing spaces within what looks like a simple cube of a building”.

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West Bromich

One more stop off before Birmingham, in wet and windy West Bromwich, and a building some described as the low point of the trip, Will Alsop’s The Public, former Arts Centre now a Sixth Form College. Matched only by the neighbouring Sprinkles Gelato shop front, we mused.

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Birmingham

Once we had negotiated the traffic diversions in the ‘motor city’ of the Midlands, the hotel was a welcome rest (and Livia’s favourite building, although unsure whether that was the architecture or the breakfast), before immersing ourselves in Brummie culinary culture in the Balti Triangle. Lauren’s favourite moment.

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The next day after a hearty, aforementioned, breakfast, we abandoned Chris to the rugby world cup and set off through the Mailbox to the canal basins (via Make’s The Cube) where we piled onto a narrowboat to cruise just a small part of the huge network of waterways in and around the city to get a sense of Birmingham’s industrial heritage and to see how Birmingham is responding to the challenges of industrial decline with emerging new developments. Chris had caught up with us by then, very happy with “England boshing Australia” in the quarter final.

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Amongst the stand out buildings of our walking tour were the Victorian Gothic Revival forms of the Grade I Law Courts and the wonderful, derelict Grade II* Methodist Central Hall (Matt and Hilary failing to find a legal way in to explore the interior). The red bricks and terracotta mouldings looked as good as new even if the roofs had trees growing out of them. The over the top complexity and sumptuous detailing of these buildings demonstrated the pride and craft of the Victorians that built them. It is difficult to see how well the shiny new Birmingham buildings will fare in comparison.
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The new Birmingham Conservatoire by FCB Studios (2018 RIBA National Award) was also notable. The private and intense world of rehearsal had been brought together with the public world of performance in a welcoming and accessible space. A peek into the beautifully detailed Bradshaw Concert Hall was well worth it.

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The Library by Mecanoo also had its moments. Clearly a lot of money had been spent on the exterior, a filigree façade of interlocking metallic circles, ensuring it stood out from its neighbours, the brutalist Birmingham Rep on one side and the rather austere Civic Centre on the other. We thought the roof top gardens were beautifully planted and designed, although the main ground floor space was a bit disappointingly finished. The building gave the impression of a mini city within, tying in with the architect’s vision of a ‘People’s Palace’. Overall a thumbs up and an opportunity for a bit of sketching.
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Looping back to the city centre and the iconic Rotunda, the Selfridges Slug (sorry Jan Kaplicky and Amanda Levete), New Street Station (AZPML) divided opinion.

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After negotiating the new Bullring Shopping Centre on a Saturday afternoon (consumerism on a massive scale), we found ourselves in dire need of refreshment so we quickly diverted to once gritty, now bohemian Digbeth and the creative Custard Factory environs. Highlights included the street art, bar/barber’s and the wonderful Digbrew Company Beer and Taproom – with thanks to Lauren for the discovery.

Highlights of our last day were the discovery of Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands’ Birmingham University Sports Centre, another RIBA National Award winner and Lauren’s favourite building and the stunning Coventry Cathedral, Alex and Matt’s favourite.

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Coventry Cathedral

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Exactaform

Lastly, we took the opportunity to visit one of Designscape’s own buildings near Coventry, a production facility and HQ built recently for Exactaform Cutting Tools, a company specialising in diamond tipped precision cutting tools. Only those who had been managing the project had visited before so it was great to see the bricks and mortar first hand instead of the CAD. We were clearly colour coordinated for our visit!

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Wending our way back to Bath, weary but buzzing with inspiration and creativity, it seemed that the all-round winning building from our low carbon 2019 Study Trip was the New Art Gallery, Walsall, and the most popular favourite experience, the Digbrew Company Beer and Taphouse. Roll on next year!

London Road Regeneration

A community led public realm improvement

Project
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Location: Bath

Client: Bath and Northeast Somerset

Status: Completed

Key Materials: Steel planters, Concrete paviors, Steel tree grilles, Public art

Before we started this project, London Road, a main thoroughfare in and out of Bath was blighted by heavy traffic and vacant commercial premises. We were appointed by Bath and North East Somerset to undertake a community led project to improve the external environment for local residents and business. By means of stakeholder workshops and use of models which encouraged participants to contribute their ideas in a variety of ways, a proposal to reclaim the street was developed and we produced a concept design which formed the basis for extensive traffic calming measures and public realm improvements. The final, constructed design was completed by others. The project has resulted in a more accessible environment, complete with trees, planters and improved pavement finishes that together create a higher quality gateway to the city.

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Avenue Housing

A back land development of 5 low cost homes

Project
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Location: Minehead

Client: Private

Status: Unbuilt

Key Materials: Render walls, Timber cladding, Fibre cement roof tiles, Zinc dormers

This development proposal responds to the need for small, low cost houses and flats in Minehead, whose economy is heavily dependent on seasonal work and retired people. Situated in the main street connecting the town centre to the beach, the scheme comprises the conversion of a Victorian former hotel and nursing home into seven private flats, some with private gardens, suitable for young or elderly couples. The former car park at the rear is to be developed as five small mews houses around a small parking yard, providing accommodation fitting for young families. The arrangement of shared facilities and common external circulation routes has been designed to encourage neighbours to meet and to get to know each other.

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Big Shed

Big Sheds

How to make a Big Shed more commercially viable for your business

The term Big Sheds is a coverall for large commercial buildings that have a number of  uses: a manufacturing facility,  storage & distribution centre, climate-controlled data centre, retail space sports building or community space. Generally made from a universal set of parts – a steel portal frame wrapped in profiled metal cladding – there are new possibilities emerging in the digital design and manufacture of buildings. This has caused Designscape to re-evaluate the standard approach and challenge the industry standard approach to Big Shed design.

There are a number of key drivers behind these shifts:

Changes in technology

Changes in digital design technology (parametric modelling) and digital manufacturing are key drivers in finding a more cost and time efficient solution to Big Shed design. Parametric modelling and digital manufacturing techniques allow complex bespoke, optimised forms to be designed and made at no additional cost premium.

Commercial site availability

As suitable sites become increasingly difficult to find and the planning process becomes ever more demanding, so the concerns of sustainability, job creation and visual impact can be considered for a more positive planning outcome when proposing a Big Shed on a difficult site. A more bespoke and agile design solution can make an otherwise unviable site much more attractive. 

Cities and transport

Our cities are about to see some profound changes with the impending arrival of driverless vehicles, the requirement for clean air zones and automation of goods delivery services. As a consequence, Big Sheds are a feasible architectural solution to meet the growing needs out of town storage and freight consolidation  facilities to support growing last mile delivery networks.

Corporate identity and employee wellbeing

With building assets recognised as an important part of a company’s business strategy in an increasingly competitive global market, commissioning a Big Shed might be a practical consideration in projecting the right corporate image. Along with the increasing need to provide the ideal working conditions to both attract and retain employees, an elegant building design solution can help an organisation to help promote its CSR story.

Architecture and sustainability

A Big Shed can help address many of the issues surrounding the growing sustainability agenda – from design and materials to energy use and location.  As part of our pledge to  #Architects Declare our studio actively engages in sustainable architectural practices.

Humans

With employers mindful of the need to attract the best people, grow an internal culture that promotes productivity and create a working environment that reduces absenteeism and improves staff retention, designing a Big Shed to meet these requirements will have a positive economic impact for a business looking for a new premises.

Commercial building designed for employee wellbeing

Rethinking the big shed

If considering a new premises for your commercial business, we invite you to download a copy of our recent publication Rethinking the Big Shed which considers the key drivers to Big Shed design in more detail and explores some of our recent work in this area.

The future of big sheds

With some lateral thinking, innovation in Big Shed design can help business clients gain a competitive advantage in the commercial market place. Scarce and unusual sites can be made more viable. There are any number of commercial and economic benefits to commissioning a more agile building design to help businesses meet their longer term business objectives.

Designscape are an integral part of and foundation of our commercial projects as we look to modernise out global facilities. They understand our people and support development of the environments we need now and into the future.

Paul Hipkins, Global Project Manager, Seco Tools AB

Avonbridge House

A Headquarters in a Listed factory building

Project
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Location: Chippenham

Client: Alliance Pharmaceuticals Ltd

Status: Ongoing

Key Materials: Cast iron, Curtain walling, Patinated zinc cladding, Patent glazing

Avonbridge House is a Listed building, formerly a Milk Condensery, the first such building in the country, operated by Nestle until the 1960’s. Converted to offices in the 1980’s the building is now wholly occupied by Alliance Pharmaceuticals as their Global HQ. Working with long term interior design and space planning collaborators Wylde IA, Designscape are in the process of obtaining a number of Listed Building Consents to replace elements of the 1980’s conversion and extend office accommodation for this growing business. This includes converting un-used attic into office space; new reception area, replacement curtain walling and windows, external breakout terrace.

Interior design and space planning Wylde IA

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Project Information.

Avonbridge House is a Listed building, formerly a Milk Condensery, the first such building in the country, operated by Nestle until the 1960’s. Converted to offices in the 1980’s the building is now wholly occupied by Alliance Pharmaceuticals as their Global HQ. Working with long term interior design and space planning collaborators Wylde IA, Designscape are in the process of obtaining a number of Listed Building Consents to replace elements of the 1980’s conversion and extend office accommodation for this growing business. This includes converting un-used attic into office space; new reception area, replacement curtain walling and windows, external breakout terrace.

Interior design and space planning Wylde IA