HLM design new carbon-efficient office building
HLM Architects’ design for the London Borough of Greenwich’s new £52.5 million Civic Offices
in Woolwich town centre is the centrepiece and catalyst for an ambitious regeneration of the
town centre. The project brief has been developed to enable the Council to deliver improved
public services and more community facilities, with a new public library, public services
centre, business centre and the ‘Greenwich Community Gallery’ as well as 11,000 sq m of
The landmark building – set to be completed in 2011– is a pathfinder scheme in line with the
government’s ‘better ways of working initiative’, it will conclude the first stage of the
masterplan creating a new ‘Civic Quarter’ in the town.
Several months’ consultation between HLM and the Council’s members and modernisation
team led to a clear and ambitious brief; delivering the twin needs of effective public interface
and secure working environment in a welcoming space that is sustainable, procured through
a property strategy which provides unbeatable value to the taxpayer.
HLM’s design pays close attention to spatial arrangements and efficiencies in working
practices. Careful research into time spent at workstations, attendance and staff/department
working practices led to a ‘clear desk’ policy, flexible working zones, informal and secure
meeting spaces, and core customer clusters offering internal visibility and simplicity of
Within the service centre, various service delivery clusters offer an open and welcoming
environment to the public, while also responding in a subtle way to create a safe and secure
environment for staff. Each cluster consists of wide, heavy, colour-coded furniture chosen for
function and safety.
Finishes and colours have been designed to influence mood and aid wayfinding. Hard
surfaces will encourage flow, while soft flooring and furnishings will create a welcoming
environment. Textured surfaces, innovative feature lighting and planting create visual interest
and comfort for customers, helped by large-scale graphics.
Externally, masonry and glass materials will emphasise the building’s civic stature, with
glazing at lower levels, designed to create a sense of openness and reflect the council’s policy
of open and transparent governance.
Designed to achieve BREEAM ‘excellent’ rating, the building will use a mixed-mode ventilation
system making natural ventilation possible for most of the year. Glazing solutions meet not
just aesthetic aims, with the introduction of a ‘climate skin’ at the upper levels, designed to
enhance natural ventilation and general insulation qualities.
Lighting sensors, automated blinds, green and brown roofs, rainwater harvesting, 500 sq m
of photovoltaic panels and a building management system will reduce carbon consumption by
over 50% relative to Econ 19 accepted best practice. Once the next stage of the masterplan
is complete, the offices will be linked to a bio-fuel tri-generation CHP station.
Finally, the results of these design methods are projected to reduce space requirements by
around 2,500 sq m and cost by £5.5 million, giving maximum value through rationalisation,
restructuring and a strong emphasis on sustainability.