Sweet-looking facade

Architectural glazing systems by Kawneer were specified as a ‘key aspect’ of the new regional head office of British Sugar’s parent company, Associated British Foods (ABF).

CPMG Architects selected products from all of Kawneer’s portfolio for the building on a 4.5-acre site at Cygnet Business Park, Hampton, Peterborough, which would enable the relocation of almost 400 people from ABF businesses locally (AB Sugar, British Sugar, AB Mauri, ABF Ingredients and ABF) with the addition of purpose-built conference and training facilities and a central reception area.

Kawneer’s aluminium AA100 SSG (structurally silicone glazed) curtain walling features on the ground floor reception, meeting/conference spaces and south-facing restaurant/café, while AA100 mullion-drained curtain walling has been used on the first and second floor open-plan offices of the three-storey building.

The 5,755m2 (GIA) building features ultra-thermally efficient AA720 doors, large (3m high by 9m wide) AA3572 sliding doors, and over-sized (2.4m by 0.7m) AA720 parallel opening windows, all installed over six months by a team of up to 15 from Norman and Underwood.

The office spaces revolve around a triple-height atrium where a feature accommodation staircase connects the three floors to promote interaction and collaboration with 400+ staff, while skylights at roof level provide additional natural light and ventilation deep into the plan.

The ground floor is slightly recessed from the perimeter line of the floors above, eliminating the need for an external solar shading system. A prominent cantilever canopy above the protruding reception area emphasises the main entrance.

The design brief called for a building in keeping with ABF’s values of cost effectiveness and value for money, a “modern building fit for 2030 and beyond, with timeless / classic design and natural light and views out to the surrounding area as a key deliverable in the design philosophy”, all relating to health and wellbeing for the end users.

Precedents were considered in which contemporary office buildings use glazed curtain walling in combination with external glazed shading systems to optimise natural light deep into the building, minimising artificial lighting and glare from the sun, and enhancing the wellbeing of occupants.

In terms of the development of ABF’s new regional HQ, the aim was to create an environmentally responsible building, with an exemplar approach towards low-energy (Passivhaus) design principles. This involved energy demand minimisation through effective building form and orientation, good envelope design, and proficient use of services, such that the building itself is used as the primary environmental modifier.

The construction over 20 months by main contractor Bowmer and Kirkland was of in-situ concrete where the exposed concrete also acts as thermal mass in compliance with Passivhaus design principles, as ABF was designing for an ‘A’ energy efficiency rating to potentially help save £350,000 in combined running costs.

The entirety of the building envelope is Kawneer’s curtain wall systems with 50mm sightlines and consistent size modules that also incorporate sections of openable floor-to-ceiling windows to allow for a degree of personal control of ventilation. The objective was to create a visually open transparent facade to all elevations, maximising natural light into the building.

CPMG associate Ajay Chauhan said: “The clients are very happy with the end result as the overall building exceeded their expectations by designing an energy-efficient office building with collaborative spaces at the heart of it, and forming different agile working areas with controlled natural light deep into the building.”