Vertical village

James Forryan
05 Nov 2009

Woods Bagot's designs for new corporate headquarters building

This design for a high-profile International Headquarters building in Europe turns the usual workplace solution inside-out. Located in a country that enjoys rigorous daylight and sustainability parameters, this solution leverages these requirements to create an innovative workplace solution that can be used as an effective solution to attract and retain key talent. Rather than a typical central core or a series of long linear bar buildings, our response was to invert these solutions inside-out and create a spiral of space which wraps a vertical village common. The vertical village common creates a community of space at the heart of the building and is activated by vertical circulation and meeting boxes that activate the space.

The spiral floorplate configuration is connected by a pathway of staircases that are cantilevered into the atrium. This pathway extends the metaphor of the tree upon which the building is based as the ideal and most inspiring work environment. The idea of the tree becomes the organisational devise of circulation and collaborative spaces that punctuate the atrium. The ‘Meeting Tree’ is comprised of bridges and meeting spaces which encourage serendipity through chance encounters and casual conversations. This tree extends from the entrance to the roof-top terraces and sky lit staff restaurant. This pathway through the building landscape will foster a cooperative and engaging workplace culture of collaboration and connectivity promoting a sense of community.

The narrow inside-out floor plate results in all work areas being within 7 m from a façade, natural light and views. The floor plate width is optimum to facilitate cross ventilation and the heating and cooling strategy which relies substantially on natural ventilation and mixed mode operation. A nearby lake is used as a resource to provide cooling and an underground labyrinth, coupled with an operable skylight to the atrium facilitates night purge operation in summer and heat capture in winter. The building is targeted to obtain a LEED Platinum rating.

The building form is a response to the larger built, natural and urban context. The building rises to a pinnacle and becomes a signifier of the important new urban square that is created at the forecourt to this building. The urban square accommodates the intersection of a new pedestrian link from the adjacent train station, via our site, to the nearby Lake. This newly created civic space will be activated with cafes and restaurants as well as the footfall generated by this new institution. The building is also a good urbane citizen by way of its sculptured base that provides weather protection to pedestrians in concert with the urban repair facilitated by new urban design and landscaping to the surrounding streets.

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