BCO Awards dominated by South East offices yet again but Glasgow office takes top spot

Barclays’ Glasgow campus was celebrated as the Best of the Best at the British Council for Offices BCO AwardsBarclays’ Glasgow campus (pictured) was celebrated as the Best of the Best at the British Council for Offices (BCO) National Awards last night, also taking home the prize for Corporate Workplace. Seven further winners of BCO Awards were recognised as leading examples of excellence in workplace design in the UK. There were no winners in any category in the Midlands or North of England, Northern Ireland or Wales, although two offices in Manchester and Widnes were commended and the President’s Award went to HMRC for its ongoing national estate management programme.

Barclays’ campus has regenerated a derelict site on the bank of the River Clyde. It impressed the judges with the benefits it has delivered for employees and the community through ‘considered placemaking’ and social initiatives. Combining such initiatives with its approach to workplace design makes it a “truly outstanding” project, according to the judges . Notable for its focus on creating an inclusive and “barrier-free” working environment, the campus also deploys renewable energy technologies and houses an educational Sustainability Centre.

The BCO’s respected National Awards programme claims to set the standard for best-in-class office buildings across the sector. The awards dinner, with guest speaker Jeremy Vine, attracted over 1,200 key players from the industry. The winners of the BCO Regional Awards were among the attendees at Grosvenor House in London, hoping to take home the National Award for their category.

The winners of the BCO National Awards 2023 are:
• Best of the Best – Barclays Glasgow Campus
• Corporate Workplace – Barclays Glasgow Campus
Highly commended – TJX Watford Campus
• Commercial Workplace – One Portwall Square, Bristol
• Fit Out of Workplace – Diageo 1HQ, London
• Projects up to 1,500m² – Threesixty Architecture Studio, Inverness
• Refurbished/Recycled Workplace – Sycamore House, Stevenage
Highly commended – Calico, Manchester; The Kensington Building, London
• Innovation – Five Bank Street, London
• ESG – HERE Building, Thames Valley Park
• Test of Time – White Collar Factory, London
Highly commended – Waterfront Point, Widnes
• President’s Award – HM Revenue and Customs’ (HMRC) Locations Programme

Another campus, home to TJX in Watford, was a highly commended Corporate Workplace for its positive contribution to the local area, where the retailer has been a key employer for 25 years.

Innovation in design and delivery earned One Portwall Square the Commercial Workplace prize. The judges were particularly struck by the building’s pioneering mixed mode ventilation and cooling systems. Generous floor to ceiling heights, roof terraces on every level and a touchless journey throughout the building also contribute to its success.

Described as “clever and thought through” by the judges, Diageo’s new global HQ is the winner of the Fit Out of Workplace award. As part of the refit of the space, generous interventions such as a striking feature staircase make connectivity a focal point. The judges also noted that state of the art technology has been deployed with a user experience that is both functional and inspirational.

The prize for Projects up to 1,500m² went to Threesixty Architecture’s own studio in Inverness, for making an impact larger than its relatively small scale and demonstrating a commitment to “walking the walk”. To support the recovery of the high street, the office plays host equally well to yoga classes as a venue for the RIAS convention. A sensitive approach to construction procurement saw the extensive use of local trades to create a beautifully crafted workspace.

The judges found Sycamore House’s transformation from tired and underutilised storage shed to cutting edge office “truly inspirational”. In the Refurbished/Recycled Workplace category, award-winning building, modern and flexible workspaces combine with vibrant communal areas to encourage interaction between occupiers. Large meeting spaces, a welcoming café, winter gardens, and clever use of height and volume create a space that the judges said feels genuinely collaborative.

The BCO celebrated the abundance of high-quality entries to the Refurbished/Recycled Workplace category by highly commending two projects. At Calico, a clear distinction between Grade II-listed building fabric and new interventions – including art, colour and texture – won the judges over. The Kensington Building was recognised for its beauty, biodiversity and sustainability credentials.

At Five Bank Street, the judges felt that the European Bank for Reconstruction & Development (EBRD) demonstrated a passion for doing the right thing, both socially and environmentally, while providing a state-of-the-art office environment for its workforce and clients. A materials passport and deconstruction guide for the project was one of the reasons the judges decided it was worthy of the Innovation award. On-going post occupancy evaluation also stood out as exemplary.

Through the creative repositioning of the HERE Building, a forensic approach was adopted to tracking and minimising its carbon impact. The winner of the ESG award exemplifies how data-led design can deliver an aspirational product. Its timber atrium is a tangible expression of how ESG has permeated every aspect of the project, redefining how a business park can meet the needs of today’s occupiers.

White Collar Factory, a previous winner of the BCO’s National Innovation Award in 2018, was presented the Test of Time award. Described by the judges as “a very brave project” that created the next generation flexible office, the building has allowed businesses to grow, during and beyond the pandemic, and is now fully let.

Highly commended for the Test of Time award, Waterfront Point felt to the judges like “a real home” for the workforce of Halton Housing and has been easily adapted to reflect changes to the business post-Covid.

The President’s Award was presented to HM Revenue and Customs’ (HMRC) Locations Programme, a more than decade-long workplace restructure and estate transformation within one of the UK’s biggest employers. In that time, 11 new or refurbished HMRC offices have been in the running for the BCO’s Regional Awards. 73,000 civil servants now benefit from smarter working and a more supportive culture – increasing colleague satisfaction to 88%. At the same time, the new regional centres enable better service to taxpayers, while supporting levelling up and local communities.

Despina Katsikakis, President of the BCO, said: “In addition to impressive estates savings, what is of particular importance to the BCO is how workplaces are making a positive social impact. As we consider the future role and value of offices, a programme that actively focuses on creating more resilient cities, communities, and societies is highly commendable. We are honoured to give HMRC our 2023 BCO President’s Award for just such a programme.”