The RAC is pressing ahead with two very different building projects which exemplify its changing approach to property.
The first is a new £16 million headquarters building at Egham in Surrey, won in competition by John Seifert Architects. Teardrop-shaped in plan, it won planning permission last month and goes on site in May.
Seifert describes it as a ‘breathing building’, with the inhabitants - it has a capacity of around 500 - visible to the outside world. A ‘slightly symbolic’ free-form metal roof ‘floats’ above to create the feeling of a ‘stretched cloak’ - reminiscent, says Seifert, of the RAC bike riders. Three towers apparently hold the roof in tension and glow, beacon-like, for far-off motorway drivers. Extensive car parking space is shielded by a line of trees, while the site is embanked. But the focus is an atrium which acts as an entrance hall and lifts area.
Meanwhile, in Walsall, Picardi Architects is adding a new office building and link to the RIBA regional awardwinning Control Centre that Gennaro Picardi designed with Simon Allford and Paul Monaghan when at BDP.
Already complete is the £1.2 million Phase 1, which involved transforming one of the main building’s three training areas into offices, adding a strip of new windows and reordering the long car park so it now has a covered walkway as a pedestrian spine and more than twice as many spaces.
Phase 2, which started on site in February, is a three-storey, £4 million new office building, linked to the original landmark by a new reception area for both elements, and bridge link. The 3200m2 building, finished in aluminium, features a rooftop silver metal tubular rail, while the link includes a vintage car display area behind glass screens in the reception area. It also has new restaurant and boardroom facilities, access roads and landscaping. The addition should be complete by next January.