CONNECTING STAFF AND VISITORS TO EACH OTHER AND TO THE TREES
Staff and visitors to the Woodland Trust are welcomed through a central garden space planted with birch trees. By providing both an informal meeting area and a place for eating lunch outdoors. The symbolic 'woodland' encourages conversations and connection.
The building ascends in a spiral around a central garden space, planted with birch trees. From the single-storey bike shed it makes a dynamic transition from landscape to workplace, through a wing of service and cellular space to a three-storey 15m deep open plan office building. This external ‘heart’ is echoed by an internal top-lit atrium which is both reception space and the staff breakout area. External timber cladding and decorative wood panelling internally express the core mission of the Trust and reflect the surrounding landscape.
The vision, attention to detail and technical knowledge of FCBStudios, whilst always keeping an eye on costs, has been amazing. The building is proof that innovation and sustainability does not need to carry a cost premium.
Julian Purvis Director of Corporate Resources, Woodland Trust
FOR THE TREES, OF THE TREES
The Woodland Trust was keen for the building to be as energy efficient as possible, sitting lightly in its surrounding landscape. The building is constructed using a cross-laminated timber (CLT) panel system. While this might seem the obvious choice, the design team explored the pros and cons of a timber structure to that of steel and concrete structures demonstrating that as well as the environmental benefits of timber (in terms of reduced embodied energy compared to steel or concrete) it also reduced time on site, and lent itself to neat detailing, and lighter foundations. Once the decision was taken to use CLT for the main structure, it became logical to use it elsewhere in the building, including the lift shaft, stairs and balustrades.
We calculate that the CLT structure and timber cladding saved nearly 650 tCO2e in comparison to a concrete frame, making the building carbon negative and offsetting five years of operational carbon.
BRINGING PEOPLE TOGETHER UNDER THE TREES
The Woodland Trust wanted to ensure that everyone based in, or visiting the offices, feels that they are part of one organisation, and one team. They also wanted to positively encourage staff to leave their desks and come and eat together. The entrance and breakout areas have the flexibility to allow the whole organisation to come together. Open plan layout aims to encourage collaboration and team working, to minimise barriers between departments and to create a feeling of integration.
The design builds on the team’s experience of post occupancy evaluation and design of workplaces to create a sustainable and bespoke building which meets institutional and BCO requirements within a tight budget.
LIGHT, SPACE AND WARMTH
The elevations are inspired by the sense of space and verticality of woodlands. Three-storey vertical windows on the north and south elevations provide natural light and ventilation, and the timber structure has been modified in a highly innovative way to increase thermal mass.
A series of ‘concrete radiators’ – concrete boxes fixed to the timber panelling inside - provide the necessary extra mass for passive heating and cooling. The building achieved a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating.