3 Wellington Place

Leeds, UK

3 Wellington Place provides 520m2 of flexible office accommodation for Buro Happold’s Leeds team. The working environment accommodates a 50% increase in staff, despite a 30% reduction in area, by using flexible workspaces, a comprehensive hot desking strategy, clever storage solutions and multi-use areas.

All staff have a view of the outside, and the hub has uses ranging from a lounge for lunchtime screenings to whole office formal presentations or a seated seminar.

Challenge

Moving their Leeds office to 3 Wellington Place created a unique opportunity for Buro Happold to get more from their workplace. Focusing on reducing their carbon footprint, bringing staff together and improving environmental conditions were the key drivers instigating the move.

The Buro Happold brief included a fit out that has a positive impact on the business, better working environment for all staff, a visual improvement and a more productive and creative environment.

Improved facilities that reflect what we do was key, as was increasing collaboration between staff to engender a stronger sense of community. Designed to accommodate 60 staff with the flexibility to increase to 90, the space also had to deliver an area large enough for the entire office to gather.

Person walking at night outside of Buro Happold Leeds Office
Integral to the design approach is the absence of walls/floors/barriers dividing the team, ensuring the Leeds office feels like a truly collaborative space. Image: Buro Happold
Internal shot of kitchen and break out area of new Buro Happold office Leeds.
The bright and high ceiling gives an airy atmosphere and a connection to nature is achieved through views out for all staff. Image: Buro Happold

Solution

A direct street entrance leads from the external plaza into the vibrant hub, an open plan kitchen/dining/living room for the office. With reception at the heart of this space, it is the zone for interaction. The hub leads through to a “pinch point” – a deliberate transition space, where connections to facilities and other functions are located. The transition provides a noise buffer to the workspace – a quieter space laid out for efficiency, and to aid concentration and study. A variety of work space is provided, with standup/sit down desks, informal seating, a high breakout table for ten and a more intimate booth for 4. Quieter informal space is provided at the end of the work space, a place where you can go to reflect.

Internal photo of Buro Happold's Leeds office, including break out spaces, lockers and feature lighting
Suspended interlinking halo fittings light the transitional space while adding visual appeal. Image: Buro Happold

The work space solution embraces a full hot desking policy, with the potential for 90 staff without needing future furniture fit-out enhancements. An efficient one person per 6m2 occupancy density in the workspace pays dividends in freeing space within the overall footprint to facilitate flexibility in its use.

Photograph of woman using the open plan kitchen at Buro Happold's new Leeds office
Early stakeholder engagement with staff was central to development of the brief. Image: Buro Happold

IT provision is the backbone supporting this flexible working environment. The simple principal “it needs to work first time, every time, wherever you sit” means anyone can use any desk, a breakout table for 10, a quieter booth for 4, or the vibrant hub to present to the whole office.

Only two permanent meeting rooms were included within the brief as a compromise in preference for having a space large enough for a full office gathering. Whilst these would have been difficult to book and always in use previously, the addition of alternative group working spaces has significantly relieved the pressure on their use.

Environmental comfort, with parity for all staff was key, with good indoor air quality and stable temperatures all year round. An average fresh air rate of 11l/s/p can be achieved at full capacity of 75. With an average daily attendance of 50, air quality is significantly higher.

A connection to nature was important, with external views for all the staff and good levels of natural daylight. A central living fig tree symbolises “garden” within the office.

Value

3 Wellington Place is a working environment to be proud of. The new office achieved a 50% reduction in electricity consumption and has aligned with the basebuild BREEAM Excellent certification. Footfall within the office has increased for both interoffice Buro Happold visitors and external clients and collaborators, and despite a 30% reduction in floor area, and an increased staff capacity of 20%, the office maintains a feeling of spaciousness and light.

Workspace analytics led to the flexible approach to space ownership and a full hot desking solution has had great success. Allowing staff to sit alongside different colleagues each day and enabling a multi-disciplinary group to co-locate for specific stages of a project or activity has not only satisfied the immediate staff, it is now being considered for adoption in other Buro Happold offices.

Last but not least, the surprise success of the scheme is the benefit of incorporation into a wider business community. Engagement, activities and facilities outside the immediate office space have extended the reach of the business and enlivened the day to day routines of many of the staff.

Internal photograph of break out space in Buro Happold's revamped Leeds office
Members of the Leeds team now have access to a range of great collaborative workspaces and breakout spaces, which have really helped to reinvigorate the team spirit in the office. Image: Buro Happold

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