Nicholas Grimshaw and Partners' factory for RollsRoyce at Goodwood is an evolution of the Grimshaw oeuvre and a sensitive response to the West Sussex countryside For Sir Nicholas Grimshaw, there are parallels to be drawn between the new Rolls-Royce factory and offices in Sussex and some of the projects that established his reputation more than quarter of a century ago. The Rolls-Royce project, says Grimshaw, is, like the Herman Miller factory completed on the banks of the Avon at Bath in 1976, a matter of 'bringing industry to where people want to live'. There are also comparisons to be drawn with the bestknown Grimshaw project of recent years, the Eden Project. Both Rolls-Royce and Eden, Grimshaw argues, were about repairing a damaged landscape, and both could be seen as contributing to the diversification of the rural economy.
The terrain of north Cornwall, ravaged by china clay digging, seems far removed from that of West Sussex with its rolling downs and picturesque villages, now largely inhabited by affluent London commuters and retirees. But the Rolls-Royce site on the Goodwood Estate, a few miles from Chichester and close to the famous racecourse and car-racing circuit (a good place for testing high-performance cars), was earmarked for gravel extraction, a process that could have extended over some decades. It is now occupied by a building that is a model of discretion and sensitivity of impact on its landscape and a rational development of the new workplace model, derived from the US, pioneered by Grimshaw, Rogers and Foster in the 1960s and '70s.
The Rolls-Royce car celebrates its 100th birthday this year. It was on 1 April 1904 that engineer Henry Royce's first model emerged from the factory in Cooke Street, Manchester. Shortly afterwards, Royce met Charles Rolls for dinner in the city's Midland Hotel and a famous partnership was launched. Car production moved to Derby and then, in 1947, to Crewe - Rolls-Royce meanwhile became a major manufacturer of aero engines. After a period in which the marque seemed to lose its way in design terms, the right to produce Rolls-Royce cars was sold to BMW in 1998. (In a clean sweep by the Germans, the Bentley name, along with the Crewe factory, went to Volkswagen. ) BMW resolved to recreate the RollsRoyce car from scratch, and its new Phantom model (basic cost: £250,000, 500 bhp engine, 0-60 mph in 5.7 seconds) has been acclaimed as a re-invention of the marque. The new Goodwood factory was commissioned specifically to build the new Rolls. The choice of the site reflects the demands of a luxury market. Many cars are bespoke models, with the future owner visiting the factory to select everything from the body colour to the details of the hand-sewn leather upholstery. It's not uncommon for such fortunate individuals to arrive by private plane at Southampton Airport or the airstrip at Goodwood, or even the conveniently close Gatwick. Some 90 per cent of the cars go for export, many via Southampton docks. Apart from the strategic advantages of the location, the association with Goodwood and proximity to such pillars of the social scene as Cowes and Glyndebourne are other attractions.
Each car takes 260 hours to build, starting with body shells made in Germany, and the plant turns out just five cars a day. The availability of craft skills in the area (there is an old-established boatbuilding tradition, for example) was another factor that attracted the company to Sussex.
That Grimshaw's building is, like the car it produces, a finely crafted product farremoved from the 'kit of parts' philosophy of his earliest projects, is a point that hardly needs to be made, though the budget was far from open-ended. Grimshaw's previous acquaintance with BMW - the practice Landscape Both Rolls-Royce and the English land - scape epitomise the timeless qualities so valued by this country. So it is fit - ting that Rolls-Royce's new head office and manufacturing plant should be inte - gral to the local landscape.
The scheme sets out to capture a sense of the great tradition of English land - scape design, while reflecting contem - porary themes of sustainability and technological innovation. The aims of the design were to:
lcreate a memorable and distinctive environment for visitor and customer, which evokes and embodies all that is Rolls-Royce;
lprovide a rich and inspirational work - ing environment, with seasonal interest and attractive spaces for leisure and recreation;
lestablish a foundation of sustainabili - ty in the planning, design, implementa - tion and construction of the site to the extent that it is seen as an exemplary project of environmental design. This addresses biodiversity, water conserva - tion, energy efficiency and reduction of emissions and pollutants to the natural environment; and lcreate an overall landscape of high artistic merit that properly comple - ments the architecture of the building.
The landscape design is a direct response to the essential properties of the site itself and, in particular, the geography generated by the proposed extraction of gravel - horizontal earthworks, ditches and scrapes - used to great advantage in the final landscape.
Its Green Belt context necessitated careful consideration of the relationship of the project to the broader landscape setting, so the scheme includes measures to minimise impact while providing local benefits, such as improved footpath links, sensi - tive treatment of site boundaries and minimisation of the visual impact of new buildings through strategic earth - works and planting.
The site landscape was envisaged as a hard-working, highly efficient environ - ment that is both multi-functional and beautiful, with a certain theatrical drama for the benefit of customers, visitors and people who work there. It incorporates wildlife conservation, water management and energy conservation alongside opportunities for sen - sory delight and leisure.
The sensitivity of the setting - adja - cent to an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and part of the Goodwood Estate - influenced the architectural and landscape design. A close fit between building layout, orientation, external spaces, land shape and the massing and distribution of planting aim to create a microcosm of the West Sussex landscape (undulating landform with distinctive tree groups) to form the backdrop and arrival sequence to the site.
Principally, the desired over-riding character of the site was a 'parkland' setting comprising four primary components: woodland plantations, water bodies, meadows and specimen tree groups. Secondary vegetation types add visual delight, increase site biodi - versity, enhance the microclimate and fulfil functional requirements, such as screening. The combination of primary and secondary vegetation types creates visual variety as one moves through the landscape, altering the character from north to south and from east to west.
The north-south transition is general - ly an expression of the natural hierar - chy of habitats associated with a completed a UK headquarters at Bracknell for the company in 1980 - may have given him an advantage over other firms competing for the job (Michael Hopkins, Aukett and Abbey Holford Rowe).More important, one suspects, was Grimshaw's known ability to get to grips with the practical requirements of a client. 'It was obvious, ' he says, 'that you could not start redesigning the production area - the specialist factory planners had decided the way it had to be and you had to work within their parameters.'
The basic function of the 55,000m 2factory is to build cars, though it does also provide sales, design and managerial facilities. There were two other major imperatives. Firstly, though there was general local support for the project with its promise of hundreds of jobs, the site is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty so the impact of the building on the landscape had to be benign. Second, the BMW group (of which Rolls-Royce is a constituent company) is a progressive employer that places stress on good amenities for staff and on quality design generally. This should be an attractive, even inspirational, place to work.
'The height of the building was a key issue, ' says project architect Paul McGill. 'A clear 8m inside was a basic client requirement, while locals, including Lord March (of Goodwood) from whom the land was leased, wanted the factory kept low - given the nature of the landscape, views of the building from above were also important.'
Excavation of the valuable gravel from the site prior to construction work starting late in 2000 allowed the complex to be partly sunk into the ground.Material left over from excavation was used to create earth mounds.
The 400,000 trees and shrubs planted will also help to blur its impact on the landscape (see Landscape, p25).
Had the project not been slightly reduced prior to construction, it would have boasted Europe's largest green roof. Even so, the 50,000m 2sedum-planted expanse sets a new record for the UK. (One of its additional benefits, in an area prone to serious flooding, is to slow rainwater run-off. ) It is punctuated by 13 circular rooflights that channel controlled natural light into the heart of the building.
While classic industrial constructions of the High-Tech era sit squarely on the land like giant extrusions, the Rolls-Royce factory and headquarters is a carefully composed family of buildings. A more formal notion of architecture has displaced the machine aesthetic of the recent past. The production area is contained within the largest of the buildings, which extends on a north/south axis, with staff parking areas at the south end and the paint shop at the north end - car bodies are sprayed here as the first step in the production process. Visitors to the site, including potential buyers, arrive from the west into a large paved courtyard which is flanked, to the south, by the final production area and, to the north, by the two-storey pavilion that houses VIP lounges, showroom, boardroom and offices. The restaurant, used by all staff, is contained in a pod, raised on piloti, that forms a link between the pavilion and the production building.
The external hierarchy in the treatment of these buildings would not have been seen in a Grimshaw building of the 1970s or 80s.
The significance of the pavilion is emphasised by the use of areas of stone cladding.
(The expanses of shiny stone flooring inside reflect the client's, rather than the architect's taste. ) Any notion of management sitting in luxury with the workers consigned to a basic shed is immediately dispelled, however, by views into the production areas from the courtyards - a memory here of Grimshaw's FT printing plant of the 1980s. Production staff enjoy ample natural light and views out to the courtyard and the country beyond.
While the heavy-duty, steel-framed structure of the complex on a 20m-square grid is essentially straightforward, considerable attention was given to the fine-tuning of the facades to ensure optimum environmental conditions (and also, of course, to temper the impact of the plant on its setting).
Beyond the primary steel and glazed cladding, a second cladding layer forms an environmental screen, tailored to the specific needs of external elevations (and those facing internal courts where simple profiled aluminium is used).
The main elevation of the production area, facing west, and that of the reception area and offices in the pavilion, facing south, feature bespoke sunscreening systems, which are typically Grimshaw in their use of specially made components. Motorised banks of louvres responding to the movement of the sun are formed of timber set in aluminium frames and supported on cast aluminium, powder-coated outriggers. Elsewhere, the secondary cladding is far more economical; panels of western red cedar in removable frames that allow for the alteration and possible extension of the buildings in the future. The timber is already starting to weather to a satisfying silver-grey hue.
New factories of any sort are a rare breed in a country where the distribution shed is a definitive contemporary building type.
When Nicholas Grimshaw launched his career, the UK was a heavy manufacturing economy, complete with mills and mines. It has taken German capital and commitment to relaunch Rolls-Royce (not to mention the Mini) and to create something as special as the Goodwood factory. Grimshaw says that he is still 'amazed' that the project got planning consent at all. Yet it has a more positive impact on the landscape than most present-day agricultural buildings. The only depressing thought is that it took such a special client and extraordinary location to generate something this good, while Crewe, Derby and other centres of 'old' industry too often have to settle for the banal and the utilitarian.
Specification SUBSTRUCTURE SITE PREPARATION Excavated for gravel extraction, remodelled trench contours, Visqueen DPM. Waterproof concrete pits for vehicle technology equipment FOUNDATIONS/SLABS Pad foundations. Raft slab with waterproof Sika additive SUPERSTRUCTURE FRAME Fabricated steel sections on 20 x 20m grid.
Roof structure subdivided to 10 x 10m grid.
8m-diameter roof lights. Windposts at 5m centres UPPER FLOORS Hollow rib with power float concrete topping on steel sections ROOF Galvanised finish trapezoidal decking. Bitumen vapour barrier. 120mm Rockwool insulation.
Derbigum cap sheet doubled at upstands, extensive green roof system (Tilbury Contracts) ROOFLIGHTS Double-glazed pressure-cap system with syphonic drainage DRAINAGE Green roof rainwater run-off to lake. Syphonic rainwater run-off to lake. Storm water run-off to lake STAIRCASES Galvanised steel. Stone in pavilion only EXTERNAL WALLS Primary cladding 150mm steel-faced rock wool composite (Rautaruuki). Western red cedar on aluminium subframe. Aluminium sinusoidal sheet on top-hat sections WINDOWS Kawneer double-glazed pressure gap slot windows in anodised aluminium frame.
Bespoke curtain walling system (Seele) EXTERNAL DOORS Insulated roller shutter doors (Sara). Steel doors (Hansen) INTERNAL WALLS AND PARTITIONS Blockwork to cores. Plasterboard partitions.
Localised acoustic plasterboard partitioning INTERNAL DOORS Steel doors and frames. Card key pass to all areas. Cherry wood pivot and side hung doors in pavilion INTERNAL FINISHES WALL FINISHES Limestone/paint/anodised aluminium FLOOR FINISHES Epoxy to plant. Stone and carpet tiles to pavilion. Timber floor to restaurant (Junkers).
Raised computer floor to admin and design areas CEILING FINISHES Plasterboard and paint finish. Suspended metal ceiling. Exposed deck to plant building FITTINGS AND FURNISHINGS FURNITURE VIP suites, pavilion and restaurant (Fritz Hansen). Workstations provided by client SERVICES SANITARY APPLIANCES White goods (Armitage Shanks). Fittings by Dorn Braght & Grohe DISPOSAL INSTALLATIONS Paper, plastic binding. Aluminium collection by client WATER INSTALLATIONS Separate systems for building and vehicle technology SPACE HEATING/AIR TREATMENT Warm air displacement in plant ELECTRICAL SERVICES Step down transformers in plant. Small power to offices only. Built-in redundancy of electrical services to production line COMPRESSED AIR Air lines to production line only LIFT AND CONVEYOR INSTALLATIONS Passenger lifts by UK lifts. Vehicle conveyor MOLL PROTECTIVE INSTALLATIONS Cold water sprinkler system throughout.
Pumping station and sprinkler tank on site COMMUNICATION INSTALLATIONS Data installation by client BMS Installed by client. Building BMS to include operation of solar protection via weather station and green roof irrigation BUILDERS' WORK IN CONNECTION New public highway alterations, roundabout, lighting, main entrance gates and intercom EXTERNAL WORKS EXTERNAL LIGHTING Architectural lighting to approach road, lighting additions to lake, pedestrian lighting to associates' parking LANDSCAPING by Grant Associates New earthworks and soil amelioration, synthetic lined wildlife lake, swales and teardrop pools, semi-mature trees, hedgerows, wildflower meadows. Hard landscaping - natural stone, timber walkways and formal water features and rose garden CREDITS DESIGN START DATE August 2000 SITE START DATE October 2001 COMPLETION DATE May 2003 AREA 55,000m 2CLIENT Rolls-Royce Motor Cars /Hireus ARCHITECT Nicholas Grimshaw & Partners: David Harriss, Paul McGill, Jolyon Brewis, Chris Crombie, Simon Dickens, Florian Eames, Nick Grimshaw, Malgorzata Haley, Christian HönigschmidGrossich, Isabella Magalhaes, Alex Matovic, David McDowell, Simon Moore, Diane Murdoch, Shoaib Rawat, Wenke Reitz-Lykouria, David Shelley, Tim Shennan, Timm Schoenberg, Neil Stonell, Karen Turner, Jake Walton STRUCTURAL ENGINEERS WSP South BMW Group Cameron Taylor Bedford SERVICES ENGINEER Buro Happold QUANTITY SURVEYOR Davis Langdon & Everest MAIN CONTRACTOR BMW Group (Construction Management) PROJECT MANAGER BMW Group LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT Grant Associates CIVIL ENGINEER WSP Development FIRE ENGINEER Buro Happold FEDRA FACADE CONSULTANT Arup Facade Engineering PLANNING SUPERVISOR Terence O'Rourke SUBCONTRACTORS Steelwork Stahlbau Plauen; mechanical ABB;
electrical NAT, gravel extraction Dudman Group; syphonic drainage Fullflow Group;
pavilion glazing Charles Henshaw & Sons;
architectural metalwork McGraths, Littlehampton Welding; interior fit-out Office Projects; curtainwalling , rooflights Seele International; primary cladding, green roof Tilbury; lifts UK Lifts; rotating timber louvres Merlin Sunscreen Systems; sprinklers Wormold Fire; t i m b e r s o f f i t s t o p a vilion and restaurant Hurrel Interiors; secondary timber, aluminium cladding, rooflight louvres Schneider; paint shop fit-out Burkamp; conveyors Moll SUPPLIERS Restaurant fit-out Space Catering Equipment;
restaurant furniture Office Projects; internal lighting Zumtobel; landscape lighting Siteco;
primary cladding (strip windows) to assembly building Kawneer Glazing; garage equipment Nussbaum Garage Equipment UK; automotive fuel systems Rapid Charge UK; rotating timber louvres MBC Precision Castings; green roof Alumasc; glazed planks Reglit Profiled Glass;
glass doors, glazed partitions Komfort Interiors; ironmongery HAF; steel doors Accent Hanson; pavilion furniture Solar shading variations. Left: looking out from south-facing entrance pavilion.
Centre: shading to assembly building. Right:
shading to offices adjoining to entrance pavilion