An inspirational office refurbishment project comprehensively transforming Radio House in Cambridge both internally and externally, has won the scheme recognition by being shortlisted in both the Commercial and Regeneration categories at the RICS Awards 2019, East of England.
The project, designed by architects Aukett Swanke and constructed by main contractors Quinn London, involved the complete replacement of the external building envelope, and wholesale internal re-configuration of circulation cores, entrance and 43,382sqft of office space.
The works significantly improved the efficiency and layout of the floor plates through the consolidation of existing entrances and cores to a single core.
Existing external elevations were replaced with new brick masonry and the rear façade replaced with a combination of terracotta and concrete cladding panels and increased glazing to sensitively modernise the appearance. This, combined with new mechanical and electrical services, will improve the thermal performance of the building and reduce CO2 usage.
Braillen Roberts, architect of Aukett Swanke said: “The existing building was noteworthy for its distinctive and elegant barrel vault roof with dramatic clear span across the first floor, but was inefficient due to two separate circulation cores and entrances.
“The refurbishment rationalised these into one central new core, with external fire escape stairs added at either end, providing flexibility for up to four separate tenancy lettings.”
Efficiency was improved, taking the net to gross ratio to an impressive 88%.
The new entrance opens off the core, a double height space highlighting the barrel vault roof. The finishes in this key space are polished concrete complemented by waxed steel panels to the lift shaft, a refined yet deliberately industrial aesthetic.
The office space offers large open floor plates with a 21m width, providing a balance between depth for fit out flexibility and efficiency, and open aspect for views out and daylight.
On the first floor, the combined benefits of a clear span column free space, and the lofty drama of the barrel vault roof with soffit heights between 2.95 and 4.75m, provide a spectacular and unique office environment.
The integration of services to bring the office space up to current BCO standards was carefully planned to work with the existing architecture. On the first floor, the air supply and cooling is delivered via a deep raised floor, leaving only lighting at high level to accentuate the form and rhythm of the barrel vaults.
Briallen Roberts commented: “The external envelope was renewed with a sensitive approach, recognising the conservation area context. To the north, facing the adjacent residential buildings, the existing fenestration pattern was retained, with new windows set within high quality buff brickwork, subtly modelled with vertical piers.
“To the south the façade is more open and engages with expansive views over a protected open space meadow and river Cam.
Each structural bay has a large curtain walling window, with precast GRC piers between and terracotta baguettes to spandrels. Along with brise soleil shading to the windows, the considered choice of materials lifts the character of the building and sets off the retained unique roofline.”
Sustainability and improving energy efficiency were important aspects of the clients brief. This has been delivered with new efficient plant, LED lighting, efficient new facades and changing provision – all contributing to the BREEAM excellent certification achieved.