A new civic headquarters for Harrogate Borough Council, set into a steep site within a wooded conservation area. The building includes public services, council member’s facilities and flexible office space to facilitate agile working. Harrogate Borough Councils’ brief was to provide a single site for staff, councillors and the public facilitating a ‘One Council’ culture with reduced running costs and improved operational efficiency. An emphasis on construction quality aims to reduce overall operating cost by around £1 million.
This new facility replaces existing accommodation spread over a number of locations around Harrogate. Previously operating from a 1930’s headquarters building and four administration offices, the new building helps improve working efficiencies and provides a single location public services facility.
The building steps up a sloping, underutilised council site within a sensitive wooded Conservation area on the edge of Harrogate town centre. The buildings’ three elements bring together public services, facilities for elected local councillors and flexible office space.
Built over five stories, the design maximises internal daylight and natural ventilation with the majority of the building integrating intelligent ‘Cool-Phase’ units with manually opening windows and controlled louvred ventilation for managed occupant comfort. Pre-cast concrete floors and roof provide thermal mass whilst curved external walls are Structural Steel Framed with traditionally built local Yorkshire stone panels or curtain walling with profiled aluminium cladding.
The curved roof is a radial zinc standing seam, except at low level, where a green roof sits under the tree canopy and at high level where a flat roof accommodates an extensive array of photovoltaic panels.
Internally the council has had a cultural shift towards open plan working, inter-dispersed with third spaces. Moving from a traditional static working scenario, to a modern hot desking society, enabled us to reduce numbers significantly and consequently the building footprint. In addition we have give employees a number of alternative collaborative agile work spaces; with layout spaces, high bars, café seating, and soft seating areas.
Employee well being has always been at the heart of the design with the aim to provide all employees with a visual connection to the green environment surrounding the building. A connection to natural daylight has motivated the emphasis to enhance the contact with nature.
The new working ethos and office design is intended to both attract & retain staff, whilst providing spaces for the local community to utilise. Throughout the design Harrogate Borough Council were keen to involve the local community, as a result artwork across the building has been produced by local schools and the main entrance bike stand/ seat has been designed by a local competition winner.
Overall creating a unified central hub has improved employee engagement and promoted a positive working environment in a contemporary, functional, vibrant space.