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Ryder Architecture completes bingo firm’s HQ in Sunderland

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Tombola House is phase one of a wider campus being developed by Tombola, an online bingo company, on a former industrial site on the south bank of the River Wear

The distinctive triple-gabled office building, designed by Ryder Architecture, draws inspiration from its industrial surroundings, which includes the client’s previous offices in an adjacent Grade II-listed 16th century bonded warehouse. 

Hand-made Kolumba bricks manufactured by Petersen Tegl provide the main external skin material, with windows set in deep reveals to the external walls on three sides. This contrasts with a glazed east façade, which has electro-chromatic glass giving four states of transparency to control solar gain.

Inside the building incorporates a large atrium space, collaboration areas, a café and restaurant, gym and various presentation suites. These are designed with generous floor-to-ceiling heights and a density of 10m² per person in an environment intended to aid workplace wellbeing. The fit out includes bespoke workstations developed with Vitra.

The building is naturally ventilated, and heated and cooled via exposed concrete ceiling planks and radiant panels suspended within the roof structure.

004 tombola house south elevation low street

004 tombola house south elevation low street

Architect’s view

The client was an integral member of the team from inception to completion. We worked with the CEO and other key members of staff across the company to understand their operational needs and establish opportunities for change. This allowed the end-user to have a genuine affiliation with the design, whether they were a junior programmer or the café barista.

As Tombola sought to expand its workforce and attract top talent, it was important for the new building to accommodate up to 200 new staff and offer a flexible working environment, while maximising its connection with the River Wear and beyond. To achieve the former, we have designed an open, collaborative internal environment using a restrained palette of timeless materials – masonry, steel, wood and glass – while encouraging harmony between the new workplace culture of informality and Tombola’s traditional protocols. Every architectural gesture functions independently and in partnership with the spaces around it: no area was overlooked in the creation of agile workspace, encouraging chance encounters and the exchange of ideas.

To establish an elegant and poignant address with the historic industrial location, without the compromise of solar shading, this is one of only a few projects in the UK to have utilised Saint-Gobain’s pioneering SageGlass. After extensive research, this dynamic and intelligent electro chromatic glass was introduced to the client. Responsive to the sun’s path, the technology greatly assists in reducing solar gain and mitigating glare, an essential feature, as virtually all Tombola staff work with multiple screens.

Tombola House is a research rich scheme which embodies innovative design as a result of successful client participation and meticulous design team collaboration, who collectively challenged preconceptions surrounding the quality and legacy of new build office development. The end result – simplicity in form and detail, through its considered palette and honed architectural expressions – is a testament to the hard work of all involved.

Paul Milner, senior architect, Ryder Architecture

019 tombola house social hub north wing

019 tombola house social hub north wing

Client’s view 

Originating and developing the best gaming software means attracting and retaining the best talent in a growing and highly competitive market. Providing world class facilities for our team and future employees will help us achieve this.

Ryder has designed a landmark building of timeless quality that will attract a renewed pride in the city’s employment prospects and help us provide facilities to continue to develop and nurture our teams in flexible, stimulating and engaging surroundings.

Phil Cronin, chief executive officer, Tombola

029 tombola house ground floor plan

029 tombola house ground floor plan

Ground floor plan

Project data

Start on site March 2017
Completion date November 2018
Gross internal floor area 2,485m²
Form of contract Design and Build (Single Stage – JCT Standard Building Contract with amendments)
Construction cost £8 million
Architect Ryder Architecture
Client Tombola
Structural engineer SHED
M&E consultant Desco
QS Ward Robinson
Interior consultants Ryder Architecture and Ward Robinson
Landscape consultant Colour
Acoustic consultant Apex Acoustics
Project manager Ward Robinson
CDM coordinator Ryder Architecture
Approved building inspector Assure Building Control
Main contractor Brims Construction
Joinery contractor Graeme Ash
CAD software used Autodesk Revit

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