Aukett Swanke has completed No 1 Forbury Place, a 185,000sqft Grade A office development that brings Central London design standards to Reading, Berkshire.
Developed speculatively by owners M&G and development manager Bell Hammer on a site adjacent to Reading railway station, the entire building was let last year to Scottish and Southern Energy ahead of completion. This made it the largest letting in the Thames Valley for over a decade and will be followed by a second phase on the adjoining site. Together, they will form a landmark for both Reading’s newest business district, and for the city as a whole.
Aukett Swanke‘s office design responds to the historic urban context of the neighbouring Forbury Gardens through the massing and sculpted form of the Forbury Place buildings. Laid out over eight storeys, the building has large flexible floorplates, which narrow to the upper levels to form a roof terrace that overlooks Forbury Gardens. The terrace is protected from nearby Forbury Road by extra-tall glass balustrades that provide uninterrupted views beyond over the Thames Valley, the Cotswolds and countryside to the south.
The office design incorporates a structural diagrid that gives a distinctive and dynamic identity to the new building. The glazed east and west façades are protected from solar gain by vertical fins that twist to create a pattern that becomes increasingly solid towards the centre of the building.
This gives a sense of movement for those passing by the building, with further animation provided by the varying effect of different light conditions on the bronze-coloured blades. These blades are held in place by bespoke brackets designed by Aukett Swanke in collaboration with specialist fabricators. They also provide the inspiration for a dramatic feature wall of twisted blades in the double-height reception area.
Inside, generous 26,000 sqft floorplates are well lit by both the external floor to ceiling windows and a full height central atrium. The latter is supported by a slender steel frame that echoes the external structural diagrid. Feature bronze profiles at each floor level help create a kaleidoscopic effect to views up through the atrium when combined with the reflected light from the roof.
High quality finishes were specified throughout the development, which was awarded a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating. Notable sustainable features include air source heat pumps, Micro Combined Heat and Power, rainwater harvesting and electric car charging points.
Luke Schuberth, Aukett Swanke UK Managing Director said:
“This highly efficient, agile building brings Central London design quality to the Thames Valley. Our design for No1 Forbury Place demonstrates how striking architecture with quality finishes, naturally lit deeper floor plates, in a location with unrivalled connectivity really resonates with today’s occupiers.
This appeal was evident when the whole building was let prior to its completion. Our ability to design spaces that anticipate the increasing importance and convergence of health, wellness and productivity, allows us to deliver the truly flexible, sustainable and connected workplaces the market now demands.
Construction is well underway on No 2 Forbury Place and we are proud of our continued relationship with M&G and Bell Hammer as we deliver the final phase of this exciting development.”
Construction has started on the second phase, also designed by Aukett Swanke, which is due for completion in summer 2017. 1 Forbury Place won the Best Development Outside Central London category of the OAS Development Awards 2016. http://www.aukettswanke.com/