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Architype’s thatch-clad enterprise centre named UK’s best office


Architype’s £11.6 million enterprise centre at the University of East Anglia has been named the best workplace in the country by the British Council for Offices

Clad in prefabricated panels created by local thatchers, the 3,400m2 building in Norwich picked up both the Best Corporate Workplace in the UK and the overall Best of the Best workplace at the BCO’s national awards last night (4 October).

The timber-framed enterprise centre for the University of East Anglia was praised by the judges for ’showcasing sustainable design at its best’ and for offering a ’wide range of highly flexible accommodation with incubation and collaborative spaces for new and developing businesses in a building equipped to deliver for the 21st century’.

There were also accolades for Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners’ Cheesegrater tower, which won the Best Commercial Workplace category, and Studio RHE for its ’restoring and reformatting’ of a series of historic buildings in Finsbury Square (Refurbished/Recycled Workplace).   

Full list of winners

  • ‘Best of the Best’ and Corporate Workplace: The Enterprise Centre, University of East Anglia, Norwich by Architype
  • Commercial Workplace: The Leadenhall Building, London by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners
  • Refurbished/Recycled Workplace: Alphabeta, London by Studio RHE
  • Fit Out of Workplace: Berghaus HQ, Sunderland by Rock Townsend
  • Project up to 2,000m2: Bunker, Littlewoods Complex, Liverpool by ShedKM
  • Test of Time: BBC North, Salford by ID:SR
  • Innovation: LandRover BAR Team HQ, Portsmouth by HGP Architects

Emma Crawford, managing director of Central London Leasing at CBRE and BCO National Awards chair, said: ’This year we have once again seen a fantastic range of diverse and innovative workplaces, highlighting Britain’s position at the forefront of the global office sector.

‘The Enterprise Centre stands tall as both a dynamic and collaborative work and event space, and as a benchmark in sustainable design.’

Richard Kauntze, chief executive of the BCO, said:This year’s awards nominees have impressed across the board with their commitment to innovative, sustainable design – and none more so than The Enterprise Centre, our Best of the Best award winner.’

The National Awards judging panel includes: Nigel Clark, Hilson Moran; Peter Crowther, Bruntwood Estates; Keith Priest, Fletcher Priest Architects.

Alphabeta 3

Alphabeta 3


Readers' comments (3)

  • I prefer my grass on lawns, or roofs........or cars. How often will it need to be replaced?

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  • The question of how long the wall thatch will last has been asked of myself hundreds of times, all I can say is that walls thatched with wheat straw is a first on the Enterprise Centre and theoretically it should last 50 years plus because the vertical nature of the thatch never gets moist enough for serious fungal decay to get established. It's worth reading the research findings on thatching supply on Historic England's website to better understand how thatch works.

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  • Looks really attractive, and presumably Norwich has a relatively dry climate, for England, but - if the thatch encompasses all sides of the building - I wonder if the more shaded north facing side might quite rapidly attract the sort of green moss etc that you see on elderly thatched roofs - which are less shaded than a thatched wall.

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