Vodafone Stoke office offers flexible space for uncertain times
A design for the times, the new Vodafone office drafted by RPS Planning and Development in Stoke-on-Trent in the UK has been created as a flexible working environment with a safe exit strategy. Designed for the limited budget with a rental of 20% less than an ordinary office building, the warehouse-like structure has enabled cost-savings to be transmitted to the occupiers and an alternative use if business lags.
The building has been designed as a contact centre and a regional centre of excellence for Vodafone UK PLC in Stoke on Trent. The building concept is designed around the provision of 2 large connected open plan halls with central support facilities and first floor balcony accommodation to one side which is inspired more by a film studio rather than a traditional office workspace.
The innovative design caters for a population of 450 persons in the South Hall and 475 persons in the North Hall with toilet and shower accommodations to suit.
The building plan is orientated with one hall to the north and one hall to the south on an axis that is exactly north south along its length of approximately 140M. The building is approximately 45m wide clear span surmounted by an assymetrical curved roof which is higher to one side to accommodate ancillary first floor accommodation.
The NSEW orientation has allowed the design of each external elevation of the building to respond to its aspect providing better viewing corridors and solar conditioning. The north elevation, for instance, has a large 15m long x 4m high picture window that allows light in without solar heat gains. The south elevation has a large under eaves full width high level window which follows the line of the curved roof. There is a substantial roof overhang to shade this window in the summer months. A projecting solid curved wall feature provides an interface with the adjacent landscaped paved courtyard and has a window to one side facing west.
Essential in the design is the flexibility of the space. The area is divided into two halls on the ground floor accessed by the central core, and functional areas such as the cafeteria and training rooms are situated on the first floor. While providing an innovative space for the contact centre it also provides an exit strategy. The space can be easily converted into a storage facility upon troubled times with the interiors being completely temporary. While perhaps a cynical approach, the design has essentially safeguarded the building's future and provided peace of mind for its occupants. With the frame constructed over 6 weeks and the project costing £15 million the project acts as a recession-busting prototype.