Two major new London fit-out contracts for ISG

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Colegreave HouseMultinational fit-out and construction firm ISG has won a contract for the fit-out of clothing retailer Arcadia’s UK headquarters near Oxford Street in London and is believed to have won a £50 million contract to fit out the ‘Baby Shard’ at London Bridge for Rupert Murdoch’s News UK. The £32 million Arcadia project for the reinvention of Colegreave House, designed by Sheppard Robson, involves the fit-out of four storeys and 155,000 sq. ft. of the existing building. Staff at the firm responsible for High Street brands such as Dorothy Perkins, Top Shop and Burton will remain in situ for the duration of the phased project which includes the installation of glazed roofs over the atria at the heart of the building to provide new community areas for staff.

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What’s wrong with adopting a more positive approach to work and workplaces?

What’s wrong with adopting a more positive approach to work and workplaces?

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Has there ever been a UK government more interested in the workplace than this one? Most of it has been about cutting costs of course, so the majority of announcements emanating from the Cabinet Office have been about procurement, design and environmental performance. David Cameron even at one point announced that he wanted to measure people’s happiness. The questions needed to work out how happy we are proposed by the Office for National Statistics as a result would have had a very familiar feel for anybody who has ever completed a workplace satisfaction survey even if they miss the most blindingly obvious point that when you’re skint and in mortal fear of losing your job, most other things about work lose their lustre.

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If you are moving to new offices, make sure you can get rid of the old ones first

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Building 1000 - seemed like a good idea at the time

Building 1000 – seemed like a good idea at the time

One of the most common reasons for large organisations to move to new offices is a consolidation of an extensive and disparate estate that has developed over a long period of time. But what happens when the benefits of the move are scuppered because the organisation finds it impossible to get rid of its old buildings? That is the question facing Newham Borough Council as it emerges that it may have to quit the controversially swanky £110 million offices it moved to in 2010 and back into some of the 26 properties it left at the time and has struggled to unburden itself of since.

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The rehabilitation of the cubicle and other lessons from 100% Design

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UniteSE from KI

UniteSE from KI

As we’ve said before, acoustics has become the dominant theme at office design exhibitions over the past three or four years. That’s been true at shows in Milan, Cologne, Chicago and London and was certainly the case at this year’s 100% Design at Earl’s Court. A quick whizz around the office zone at this year’s event – which is a useful way of getting an impression before you stop to talk to people about the detail of what they’re doing – revealed that well over half of the exhibitors were showcasing products that addressed the issue of acoustics. And yet things have also moved on from recent events, not least in the rehabilitation of that most demonised of all office furniture pieces – the cubicle.

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100% Design: Holding a mirror up to the way we design and manage workplaces

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Hanging Room

Hanging Room at 100% Design

If art holds a mirror up to nature, shouldn’t the design of workplace products hold a mirror up to the way we work? By definition, the things with which we surround ourselves should tell us something about the way we see ourselves and what we do. It should be possible to infer from the design of the products suppliers offer to the market what is changing in the workplace. This isn’t always the case, of course, especially for those firms who see design not so much in terms of putting lipstick on a gorilla as telling you that what you’re looking at isn’t in fact a gorilla at all. It’s Scarlett Johansson.

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Research reveals UK’s shrinking workplace space standards and regional disparities

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Alice growingThe latest Occupier Density Study from the British Council for Offices reveals that London and the South East of England have some of the most spacious workplaces in the UK, in spite of the fact that London has the most expensive office space on Earth. The BCO research found that the South West has the highest density at 8.6 sq. m. per workstation while London (11.3 sq. m.) and the South East (12.7 sq. m.) have lower densities than all UK regions apart from Wales (11.4 sq. m.). Yet recent research from Cushman and Wakefield has identified London as the world’s most expensive city to rent office space and a report last week from BNP Paribas revealed the large disparities in total occupancy costs between London and the rest of the UK.

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We deserve better than a polarised debate about cellular v open plan offices

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Jacques Tati's Playtime

Jacques Tati’s Playtime

Stimulated by a number of rather unsubtle commercial interests, the ‘in’ workplace discussion seems to have swung from ‘collaboration’ i.e. organisations need more new spaces for formal and informal collaborative interactions, to ‘distraction’ i.e. open plan workplaces are creating a loss of productivity because people whose work requires concentration are impeded by constant interruption. The implication of the latter is that people should keep their ‘cubes’ and open-plan should be avoided at all costs. You can see pretty quickly where the commercial axes are being ground can’t you.

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FMs show support for BIM, though not all are certain about what it does

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FMs show support for BIM though not all are certain about what it does

There is a lack of understanding within the FM community about what Building Information Modelling (BIM) is and its full capabilities, according to the full results of a BIM4FM Group poll. The majority of respondents (61.7%) held the view that BIM can support the delivery of facilities management, but just over a third of respondents (35.3%), do not yet understand the intricacies of how this will be achieved at this stage. While 65 per cent of the individual members of the organisation’s that make up the BIM4FM group which represents institutes, trade associations and professional bodies within the built environment had heard of BIM – there did seem to be some confusion as to what actually constitutes a BIM project. More →

Open-plan office workers need time out from the madding crowd

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Open plan offices

Open-plan offices are now the most popular workplace layout, primarily because they save on space, enable flexible working and, it’s argued, foster better communication and collaboration between employees. Yet open-plan still has some way to go to convince occupants of its merits. According to a recent study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, of over 42,000 US office workers in 303 office buildings, workers in private offices remain the most satisfied with their surroundings. However, what constitutes a satisfactory workspace differed, according to the employee’s current office layout. So while noise was the most important consideration for open-plan workers, light and ease of interaction topped the satisfaction list for those housed in cellular offices. More →

Dull corporate offices with no “buzz” inhibit productivity, complain staff

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Dull corporate offices are stifling productivity

Creating a dynamic and creative workplace is dependent on a number of factors; the office layout and design, the style of management and the wider company culture. Get these elements right and, says workplace consultants Morgan Lovell you hit the “Buzz Barometer” – a combination of a good atmosphere, energy and teamwork which encourages productivity and high levels of employee engagement. However, according to their recent research, three quarters (78 per cent) of employees say they would be significantly more productive if their workplace had more buzz. And worryingly for larger organisations, corporates are failing to match small company buzz, with four-fifths (81 per cent) saying SMEs offer a better working atmosphere than large companies.

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New guidance for designers on bridging energy performance gap

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Evaluating operational energy performance of buildings at the design stage

So-called “low energy buildings” are increasingly being found to use more energy than their designers thought they would, with the performance of low energy designs often little better, and sometimes worse, than that of an older building they have replaced, or supplemented. This difference between expected and realised energy performance has come to be known as the “performance gap”.  To help address this problem, the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) has just issued new guidance on how to address operational energy use at the design stage. ‘TM54: Evaluating operational energy performance of buildings at the design stage’ is now available from the online CIBSE Knowledge Portal. More →

Willmott Dixon wins huge £19 million fit-out contract at University of Brighton

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Cockroft Willmott DixonThe interiors division at construction and support services firm Willmott Dixon has secured its largest ever contract,  a project valued at around £19m to refurbish a 1960s teaching block for the University of Brighton. The work will include a complete refit of the building to create a 160,000 sq. ft. mixed use scheme in the ten-storey Cockroft building, including offices and IT facilities. The project was procured through the IESE framework and Willmott Dixon is working with a team that includes Fraser Brown MacKenna, Mott MacDonald, Curtins Consulting and Burnley Wilson. The interiors division has announced that it intends to raise its turnover to £125m within three years across a range of projects in the office, retail, leisure and hospitality sectors.

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