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Sainsbury’s Super Basement / Chetwoods Architects

  • 15:00 - 25 March, 2016
Sainsbury’s Super Basement / Chetwoods Architects
Sainsbury’s Super Basement / Chetwoods Architects   , © David Churchill
© David Churchill

© David Churchill Courtesy of Chetwoods © David Churchill Courtesy of Chetwoods + 15

  • Client

  • Structural Engineer

  • Lighting Consultant

  • Cost Consultant

  • Building Control

  • Main Contractor

    RG Group
  • M&E Contractor

  • Furniture Supplier

    Orange Box/HCS/KI
  • More Specs Less Specs
Courtesy of Chetwoods
Courtesy of Chetwoods

Text description provided by the architects. A newly discovered Super Basement has not only helped to attract the best talent, productivity has improved, and a new way of working has made the usable space 30% more efficient.

Out-recruiting the competition:  The recently opened Digital Lab, in the basement of Sainsbury’s Foster-designed Holborn headquarters, has already improved the speed of attracting talent to the retailer’s new Digital Services Team. 

‘The Digital Lab is enabling us to attract the best talent to our Digital Services Team to help us steal a march on the competition.  It has become a huge part of what we are.’ [Charlotte Briscall, Sainsbury’s Head of Digital Experience]


Improved productivity:  The project rationalised an existing basement catering facility to free up space for the creation of a new flexible, collaborative working environment for the new team. Flexible activity and quiet touchdown spaces allow variety and choice; they are linked by a central ‘Collaborative Stair’ that can be used as an auditorium area for group work and presentations, and a place to sit and socialise.  Throughout the design phase a charrette process allowed teams to input into what they wanted the new space to be, with a traditional 9 to 5 routine out and a more flexible approach at the top of their wish list. 

‘We got everything we wanted. Just look at the smiles on people’s faces as they walk in!’ [Tom Gilhooly, Sainsbury’s Digital Lab Project Co-Ordinator] 

Sainsbury’s Super Basement / Chetwoods Architects   , © David Churchill
© David Churchill

Discovery through chance encounter:  During the design process a volume of unused space was discovered between the basement and ground floor that allowed a new mezzanine level to be inserted. Together with filling the void over a lower basement level this created 320m sq. new usable space. This discovery, creation and more efficient use of space has also added wider commercial value with the release of valuable space elsewhere in the building. 

© David Churchill
© David Churchill
© David Churchill
© David Churchill

A template for Sainsbury’s future:  The Digital Lab was designed to deliver the change in the organisation of Sainsbury’s office space and working patterns that research* has demonstrated can result in remarkable business benefits including: +13% performance, +15% communication, +18% collaboration and +85% workplace utilisation.  Its success has become a template for fundamental change in the organisation of office space and working patterns across Sainsbury’s business, and is now being rolled out in other areas of the building.

Courtesy of Chetwoods
Courtesy of Chetwoods

We will change the building to reflect the way people work today, making it more communal. There will be a digital lab space - so we can exploit the fact that London is the third biggest digital development centre in the world.’ [Mike Coupe, Sainsbury’s CEO in Management Today 30 June 2015]

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Cite: "Sainsbury’s Super Basement / Chetwoods Architects " 25 Mar 2016. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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