LocationReading, United Kingdom
Text description provided by the architects. Aukett Swanke has completed No 1 Forbury Place, a 185,000sqft Grade A office development that brings Central London design standards to Reading, Berkshire.
Developed speculatively by owners M&G and development manager Bell Hammer on a site adjacent to Reading railway station, the entire building was let last year to Scottish and Southern Energy ahead of completion, making it the largest letting in the Thames Valley for over a decade.
It will be followed by a second phase on the adjoining site. Together, they will form a landmark for both Reading’s newest business district, and for the city as a whole.
Aukett Swanke‘s design responds to the historic urban context of the neighbouring Forbury Gardens through the massing and sculpted form of the Forbury Place buildings. Laid out over eight storeys, the building has large flexible floorplates, which narrow to the upper levels to form a roof terrace that overlooks Forbury Gardens. The terrace is protected from nearby Forbury Road by extra-tall glass balustrades that provide uninterrupted views beyond over the Thames Valley, the Cotswolds and countryside to the south.
The design incorporates a structural diagrid that gives a distinctive and dynamic identity to the new building. The glazed east and west façades are protected from solar gain by vertical fins that twist to create a pattern that becomes increasingly solid towards the centre of the building. This gives a sense of movement for those passing by the building, with further animation provided by the varying effect of different light conditions on the bronze-coloured blades. These blades are held in place by bespoke brackets designed by Aukett Swanke in collaboration with specialist fabricators. They also provide the inspiration for a dramatic feature wall of twisted blades in the double-height reception area.
Inside, generous 26,000 sqft floorplates are well lit by both the external floor to ceiling windows and a full height central atrium. The latter is supported by a slender steel frame that echoes the external structural diagrid. Feature bronze profiles at each floor level help create a kaleidoscopic effect to views up through the atrium when combined with the reflected light from the roof.