Environmental concerns and wellbeing continue to dominate BCO Awards

As was the case with the winners of other regional BCO awards, the winners of this year’s competition seem to focus on user-centric design, wellbeing and sustainabilityThe BCO Awards for the South of England and South Wales have been announced, with recognition going to six office buildings across the region. Held at The City Hall in Cardiff, the BCO’s annual South of England and South Wales Awards Dinner claims to recognise projects that demonstrate best practice in office design, fit-out, operation and sustainability, setting the standard for excellence across the sector.

As was the case with the winners of other regional awards, the winners of this year’s competition seem to focus on user-centric design, wellbeing and sustainability. This year also saw the addition of a new prize – the ESG Award – recognising a workplace that will have a ‘game changing influence on the environment, social value, governance or sustainable outcomes in the commercial building sector’.

The BCO Regional Award winners for South England and South Wales are:

  • One Portwall Square, Bristol (Best Commercial Workplace)
  • CABI Headquarters, Nosworthy Way, Wallingford (Best Corporate Workplace)
  • Clockwise Southampton, 1 Grosvenor Square, Southampton (Best Fit Out of Workplace)
  • Dock House, Welshback, Bristol (Best Project up to 1,500)
  • Campus Reading International, Basingstoke Road, Reading (Best Refurbished/Recycled Workplace)
  • HERE Building, HERE + NOW, Thames Valley Park (ESG)

One Portwall Square in Bristol succeeded in the category of Best Commercial Workplace. The innovative building demonstrates what can be achieved on a compact city centre site, even in the shadow of the Covid-19 pandemic. The six-storey Grade A office building of 35,750 sq ft was constructed on the site of disused squash courts and provides desirable sustainable workplace to the Bristol office market. A key focus of the building was placed on wellbeing and environmental performance. The judges were particularly impressed by the pioneering mixed mode heating, ventilation and cooling system, incorporating passive ventilation with traffic light system and concrete core cooling through embedded pipework in the exposed floor slabs. Occupier experience in the building is enhanced through roof terraces on every level and a touchless journey throughout the building.

Winning the award for Best Corporate Workplace, CABI Headquarters in Wallingford convinced the judges with its holistic design scheme which incorporated the occupier’s brand into the building. Its excellent environmental credentials are combined with a passive approach to design and a focus on biodiversity, with a sweeping green roof that meets the landscape seamlessly. The judges highlighted the strong collaboration between the client, design and construction team which delivered this successful scheme on a very impressive budget for a not-for-profit organisation.

A highly flexible space that took home the award for Best Fit out Workplace was Clockwise in Southampton. A clever design, careful use of colour and furnishing has transformed a tired 1990’s office building into an inviting, open and collaborative environment. The scheme has been designed with flexibility in mind. It provides a range of communal spaces as well as a variety of office sizes. Office types are modular allowing office sizes to be modified in the future should the demand change. The project has focused on the use of sustainable and recycled, low VOC materials, lime-based paints, and using local marine waste to create select pieces of furniture. The design takes cues from luxury hospitality and residential design with a nod to Southampton’s Regency architecture. The judges described the winner as ‘an exceptional workspace that truly lift the spirits’.

Dock House in Bristol was crowned best Project up to 1,500sqm. This compact office on the Bristol harbour front seamlessly blends with surrounding buildings while excelling with bold office fit out, including a secret meeting room and purpose-built bar. The judges highlighted how this office is a perfect example of where an occupier ‘expresses their personality through fixtures and décor’. The building was commercially successful, having been fully let.

Campus Reading International received the award for Best Refurbished/Recycled Workplace. 500,000sq ft of office space has been refurbished to create a space which has ESG and wellness at its core. Moving away from a reliance on fossil fuels, electric heat pumps have been implemented, and over 95% materials removed from site have been reused. The Social Value Bank has worked alongside the project to track and demonstrate the project’s social impact. The building has been designed for flexibility delivering a range of options from fully fitted incubator space to CAT A fit out and shell and core space. Occupiers benefit from high-quality amenity including a restaurant, town hall space, and a gym and wellness suite. The project was awarded a wide range of credentials including BREEAM Excellent, WiredScore Platinum, ActiveScore Gold ratings, WELL Platinum and WELL Health Safety. The judges were convinced by the building’s impressive scale and success demonstrated by positive occupier feedback.

The HERE Building, part of the HERE + NOW complex in Thames Valley Park, was the winner of the newly created ESG category. This building is carbon neutral in operation and in construction and embraces circularity by reusing the old HVAC system in the sister building next door. The design team was challenged to design out any excess to minimise upfront carbon and the residual carbon was offset using a high-quality offset programme. Architecturally, the building has been designed sympathetically to the existing fabric and internal features. The judges were stunned by meeting rooms ‘hung from the building’ and occupier wellness initiatives such as a premium gym and personal training, as well as cycling and treatment rooms.

The South of England and South Wales winners will compete for the BCO National Awards in October 2023.