A public hub with accessible facilities and an open plan, agile working environment
Kendal Civic Hub
Cumbria County Council had aspired to create a public hub with accessible facilities and an open plan, agile working environment for office-based staff. This was to be achieved by rationalising and reconfiguring the Grade II listed County Offices to support agile working under the ‘Better Places for Work’ initiative.
In support of this, Pick Everard’s architects were appointed to complete a design feasibility study exploring three options of varying scope and scale. Completed over an eight-week period, our feasibility options included for two design solutions to incorporate new build extensions and extensive internal reconfiguration of the existing building fabric.
The critical aim was to create a public hub with accessible facilities for staff and visitors. It was vital that designs maximised the use of the existing Grade II Listed town hall, including an extension linked by a two-storey atrium: simplistically uniting new and old. Options evaluated the client’s requirements for a more flexible office space within the cellular building while protecting significant historical aspects of the building fabric.
All design options needed to evaluate requirements for a flexible office space within the existing cellular offices by removing internal walls while protecting significant historical aspects of the building fabric identified in the Conservation Management Strategy.
Our proposals carefully considered the interface between the existing building and proposed new build elements. The organisation of new build accommodation allows for a double or triple height glazed atrium to abut the existing building, creating a dramatic architectural volume housing the public functions. Open plan office accommodation flanks the atrium and maximises natural daylight, as well as capitalising on views to the riverside and beyond.
Option 1 had the largest requirement of area to accommodate 229 Cumbria County Council staff members at 6:10 desk ratio, however this option required a maximised new build floor area resulting in a more expensive solution compared to Options 2 and 3, as well as being at increased risk with building further into a flood zone.
Option 2 was to provide all accommodation requirements for 124 staff at 6:10 desk ratio, however the maximised new build floor area resulted in a more expensive solution compared with Option 3, alongside the flood zone risk.
Option 3 was to provide all accommodation requirements for the 124 staff at 6:10 desk ratio within the existing County Hall. While a more affordable option, this had drawbacks including a shortfall in the number of meeting rooms and the need to retain cellular office spaces on the first floor due to conservation restrictions.