Text description provided by the architects. McDowell+Benedetti’s The Springboard Business Centre presents a new typology for the workspace, responding to a growing demand in the UK for small, flexible and sociable managed workspaces. Designed specifically for start-up businesses, The Springboard Centre, which was officially opened this summer by HRH Duke of York, provides subsidized offices, communal spaces and training facilities in a new 13,500 sqft “incubator” building located in an industrial park in Stokesley, North Yorkshire.
The building has been funded by Yorkshire Forward, European Regional Development Fund and Hambleton District Council with the intention to foster new businesses and boost entrepreneurship in the region.
The winning entry of an international RIBA competition, the design is innovative and highly sustainable in both servicing and construction. The client wanted a landmark building to attract and promote young innovative new businesses. The winning design so captured their imagination, they raised additional funds to deliver the scheme without compromise.
The result is a successful local authority public building (built on a modest budget of £2 million/ £148 per sqft) and an exemplar sustainable building model, which could be repeated in other locations with minimum modification.
The building creates intimate flexible spaces conducive to how small businesses operate. It is orientated on a north/south axis to maximise daylight through a central atrium bounded by a rigorous arrangement of two rows of offices on two floors. Services design allows easy reconfiguration of layouts of units over the life of the building. All units open onto a generous multi-purpose communal space with stair core and centralised facilities, creating an open atmosphere and promoting the cross-fertilisation of ideas. Folding doors moderate between private offices and communal space, enabling tenants to choose an appropriate balance of privacy and openness. Small inter-connecting units permit businesses to accumulate space as they grow during their maximum 3-year tenancy from 350 sqft to 700 sqft to 1050 sqft or more.
The Springboard Centre is already the recipient of four awards: the RIBA 2005 White Rose Award for Sustainability, the Royal Town Planning Institute Regional Innovation and Sustainability Award, The Journal Landmark Environment Award and the RICS Pro Yorkshire Design and Innovation Award.
The Springboard Centre wears its environmental credentials with pride. The building has a high performance envelope with insulation above existing building regulation standards. Other strategies include maximised daylighting and natural ventilation, with both weather-sensing automatic controls and individual occupier-control, exposed thermal mass, rainwater and grey water recycling and biodiversity landscaping.
Both externally and internally the building deploys a limited palette of ubiquitous renewable materials, which are robust and durable and have been specified for long-term performance and reduced maintenance. These materials are repeated in an elemental design to provide significant economies in construction and reflect an overall strategy to minimise energy consumption.
The Springboard’s signature aluminium louvered façade wraps the entire building to provide shade from the easterly and westerly low angled sun. Spaced at 500mm from the building, it also doubles as a security screen, allowing high level windows to be left open in the summer to aid night cooling.
The floating roof structure, constructed of timber trusses pre-fabricated in Austria is lit with rooflights to create a beacon at night to locate the centre, establishing an enduring iconic image.
McDowell+Benedetti helped judge an artwork competition won by Kathryn Hodgkinson, who has produced a series of cast glass installations throughout the building.
The building is tenanted by small businesses specialising in sustainable technologies.