Major milestone for weather centre HQ

Having assisted the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) for the past nine years, we are thrilled that the proposed development of their UK HQ within the University of Reading’s Whiteknights campus has been granted planning permission in February 2024.

We have been alongside the ECMWF on their journey towards a modern collaborative work environment for their expanding workforce from business strategy, brief writing, site negotiations through to consultant selection and now – during the design development and delivery by the Government Property Agency (GPA) – in a technical advisory role to the end-user.

This world-leading centre’s 1979 purpose-built facility – originally built for 155 staff – is now bursting at the seams with 360 staff from more than 30 countries. As the building is reaching the end of its useful life and further expansion on the way, we were asked to develop tailor-made workplace practices for this intergovernmental science organisation and help embed the end-user requirements into the evolving design.

Since 2021, our remit was expanded to include their new European office in Bonn, Germany, as well.  This includes the added challenge of achieving a comparable level of quality for the two very different UK and European projects.

Helping achieve targets in Haringey

Having been developed without the benefit of the definitive accommodation strategy, the concept for Haringey Civic Centre was struggling to meet the brief and budget. Consarc swiftly produced a brief and successfully advised on the steps necessary to bring the project back into scope with a radical efficiency drive, leading to a significant redesign.

Triggered by the cost overrun, the reduction in size of the new-build extension has had the welcome effect of reducing the carbon footprint of the Civic Centre redevelopment over its lifecycle. Whilst the operational carbon is much the same and proportional to the number of building users, the embodied carbon is much lower due to the smaller built volume, leading to a reduction of carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions (CO2e) of ca. 3,000t over a 60-year lifetime. That is a surprising 25% improvement of Stage 3 over Stage 2, despite the campus only being 15% smaller – achieved by key design moves recommended by Consarc at Stage 2+. This demonstrates the importance of “right-sizing” and the value of a client advisor in achieving strategic targets.

You can read more about our involvement in this project here.

Crawley Town Hall Officially Opened

With Crawley Town Hall officially opened in March 2023, we are delighted with our client’s reaction: “I just wanted to say thank you for your support and input over the last 6 years. The Project has benefited considerably from your experience and challenge”, said Nigel Sheehan, Head of Partnership Services, Crawley.

We are really pleased to see that the multi-function civic hall has been used in more alternative configurations than we anticipated, all possible thanks to the high degree of flexibility of the design.
Making use of efficiencies from open plan, flexible working, the shared foyer and a sub-divisible civic chamber, allowed us to consolidate council space at the lower levels with the benefit of rental income of the commercial offices above, lower running costs and reduced carbon emissions for the council.

The BREEAM rated and highly flexible office building was designed by our sister company Cartwright Pickard, to our enhanced client accommodation brief. Working closely with the council as client advisers our role expanded to include workplace consultancy and interior design early on.

You can read more about our involvement in this project here. See a time-lapse video here.

Festival House co-working collaboration

As lead interior designers for Festival House, we complemented our sister company Cartwright Pickard’s radical refurbishment of this 80’s building, to create a new desirable destination of contemporary co-working and serviced offices in Cheltenham.

Collaboration and phasing was key to successfully meeting the tight time and cost constraints as the building was part-occupied during extensive construction that included upwards extension and upgrading of MEP services.

We developed the full interior design, from colour and material palette, bespoke joinery design, furniture selection and scheduling to wayfinding and signage in parallel with the base-build.

Being involved from the start enabled us to liaise with architectural visualisers for early marketing material as well as fully coordinate technical items such as exposed ceilings, office acoustics and kitchens.

Back-to-the-office Improvements

To test our own approach to workplace design in times of pandemic, we undertook a short and focussed pro-bono workplace consultation for national homeless charity Crisis Skylight in Brent.

By re-zoning the existing space and subtly altering the flow through the building to minimise mixing of building users, we were able to find Covid-compliant arrangements allowing the charity to continue their work with vulnerable people with hardly any loss of staff workspaces and with reduced transmission risk.

In fact, we used Covid as a tool to provide a new perspective for improvements such as creating space by de-cluttering, unblocking circulation by consolidating storage, creating zoom booths for new remote services, adapting existing rooms for multiple scenarios with flexible furniture.

“We really appreciate your work. It will make a real difference to us”, Atara Fridler, Crisis Skylight Director. Our tailored back-to-work report has given the client a handy and professional guide allowing them to implement changes entirely at their own pace and in phases suited to their own organisation.

Discover more of our workplace projects.