At the foot of the Malvern Hills in Worcestershire is an office like no other. Our Birmingham team’s recent design and build project for Malvern Panalytical transformed a functional, hum-drum space into a collaborative micro-engineering workspace, fit for the 21st century.
Reimagining the office
We spent two years working alongside Malvern Panalytical to create their perfect workspace. Our brief was to reimagine the staid image of the micro-engineering sector by building a £4 million space for creativity, innovation and collaboration. Our journey to redefine the world of work for this process-driven scientific team has resulted in an office to be proud of.
Sharing ideas is the foundation of any evolution or progress. Right from the outset we thought about how to best facilitate a teamwork culture in the space, whether in one of the specialist laboratories, communal café or exec boardroom. Central to this was designing the perfect ‘nursery cells’ where different project teams come together to design forward-thinking and customer-focused solutions. These development hubs are the focal point for technical collaboration in the office and they give the company its competitive edge.
More and more offices are becoming intentional places of positive employee experience. With technology moving as it has, the traditional desk is no longer the only place to get work done. Offices provide so much more than what they did a decade ago. In most cases these efforts aim to provide a sense of belonging because research shows employees are happier as a result. There’s no better way to create a sense of belonging than to promote meaningful connections between colleagues.
Overbury designer Joe says creating a community feel and showcasing the ‘heart’ of the company was as important as developing the business-critical nursery cells. His favourite feature – the office ‘townhall’ – is a great example of this. The townhall was designed and built within the beautiful, light-filled central atrium of the building. Once an empty hollow, the space is now reminiscent of an outdoor patio featuring a textured palette, hints of nature and neutral materials. These elements come together to foster an environment for refreshment, relaxation and social interaction.
Back to ‘nursery’ school
Designing and building the nursery cells was a learning curve for everyone. A full year of consultation and design meant we had plenty of time to get under the skin of Malvern Panalytical to understand its exacting requirements, unique identity and highly-specialised field. We held multiple workshops with different users, prototyped various scenarios for feedback and painstakingly searched for high-quality finishes to stand the test of time.
We delivered ten nursery cells across the ground and first floors, each of which was created with a specific specialism in mind. The company is a leading provider of scientific measurement instruments to assess even the smallest elements, structures and particles. These nursery cells are crucial for developing, testing, researching and experimenting to make sure its products have practical and meaningful application in the real world from chemistry to construction!
The technical bits
Alongside the obvious necessities for this unusual workplace environment were a range of other unique requirements, including in-filling the existing mezzanine with new structural slabs, incorporating solar gain solutions to reduce the building’s energy consumption and exposing overhead services infrastructure. The services in the laboratory spaces had special treatment too. We installed dedicated air supply and ventilation, as well as specialist gas lines, lighting, anti-static flooring and safety control measures.
Walking through the space, it’s unmistakably obvious this workplace is a highly-specialised environment. But more than this, it’s filled with personality. Although it was a technically challenging design and build project, it was phased to reduce impact to the 300-strong team who occupied the office throughout and we constantly sought their input.
Working side-by-side with Malvern Panalytical, as we did for two years, allowed us to deliver a space which reflects the brand identity down to a tee. We got to know the team so well we even celebrated the project’s progress with a proper British summer BBQ – minus the British weather, thankfully!