BDP has won the competition to design a £40 million headquarters building for Northamptonshire County Council
The practice saw off FaulknerBrowns, Aedas, Associated Architects, Stride Treglown, and Sheppard Robson to land the scheme which will see around 2,000 local authority staff currently based in ‘12 ageing buildings’ brought under one roof.
The shortlisted concepts, which went on anonymous public display earlier this year, came in for heavy flak from starchitect and local boy Will Alsop in June who told the local press that all the designs were ‘dull’, likening one submission to a ‘budget hotel’.
BDP hopes to submit plans for the new ‘state-of-the-art’ civic office block in February 2014 with work expected to start on the site in Angel Street in early 2015.
The architect’s view
‘Our building regenerates this historically important quarter of the town, while respecting the scale and grain of its neighbours and preserving cherished longer views across the town’s skyline. It never the less reflects the best of contemporary, sustainable office design.
‘A new public space, Angel Square, creates an appropriate setting for the building entrance and forms part of a potential new sequence of public spaces linking All Saints Church to St John’s Church and its Gardens. From the building entrance staff and visitors arrive into a 4 storey reception and street which leads to a garden quadrangle in the centre of the plan. Stairs and lifts are located on either side of the garden, and informal meeting areas, “touchdown” working areas and other collaborative spaces are grouped around it creating a social hub for the building which can extend outdoors when the weather allows.
‘The building is designed as two blocks which enclose the garden quadrangle. A second street extends to the south, filling the building with natural light and creating a visual connection with St John’s Church and its gardens. The change of level across the site is taken up by an undercroft area which accommodates car parking, cycle storage, and, on the St John Street façade, office space which can in the future convert to retail use. The natural light, visual connectivity between floors and garden quadrangle will all help in creating a building that will allow both staff and visitors to experience a sense of wellbeing and help collaboration and sense of identity.
‘The predominantly glazed facades are clad with vertical copper fins which control solar gain and create a colour and texture, particularly when viewed from acute angles down the narrow streets, which connect the building to the distinctive urban fabric of the area (the patterning of the louvers is inspired by the traditional leather cutting lines for hand-made shoes.
‘A number of other features of the building, from ground source cooling, to extensive “green “ roofs, combine to minimise energy use and create an exemplar sustainable development.’