Norfolk agricultural buildings are the reference for the design of a complex by Pringle Richards Sharratt at Wymondham, on the edge of Norwich, to house the county's police hq. The pfi scheme has received both planning permission and a ringing endorsement from the Royal Fine Art Commission which 'welcomes it as a rare example of the pfi process resulting in a design of high quality with the potential to become a fine piece of architecture'.
Given a neutral site between two main roads in the flat East Anglian landscape, the architect opted not to relate to the site boundaries but to create a campus-like layout with north-south orientation, shielded by vegetation from the potentially low-budget industrial park neighbours.
The agricultural metaphor satisfies the requirement of the client, Norfolk Police Authority, that the buildings should be 'of Norfolk' with the orientation ensuring that all offices are equally desirable.
Three types of buildings - amenity buildings, workshops with cid facilities and a separate secure access, and support buildings - sit comfortably within the same family of designs. The 15m-wide buildings are optimal for office layout, and the 15m-wide strips between them can be covered to provide secure parking areas. Ditches and a reinforced hedge provide a less obtrusive security enclosure than the fence originally envisaged.
The robust materials include an expressed concrete frame with a cladding of timber and glass, a terne-coated steel roof which contains the plant, and exposed concrete slabs for their thermal mass.
The scheme includes a 60m-high communications mast, which the rfac is anxious should not be just of standard design, as it would let down the high-quality project. It also stresses the importance of carrying the original design quality through the detailing, the landscaping and the lighting.
CLIENT: Norfolk Police Authority
PFI CONSORTIUM: the McAlpine Osborne consortium
ARCHITECT: Pringle Richards Sharratt
STRUCTURAL ENGINEER: White Young Green
SERVICES ENGINEER: Hoare Lea & Partners
QS: Davis Langdon & Everest