LSPIM appointed Trident to breathe new life into Aztec West through project management, quantity surveying and CDM principal designer roles, with Angus Meek Architects appointed as lead architect.
When Regional REIT Limited acquired the building in March 2016, the previous tenant had heavily compartmentalised the space and installed a large refectory on the ground floor. The building therefore required a comprehensive strip out and refurbishment both internally and externally to bring the it up to modern day standards.
One month after commencing works onsite, the Grenfell Tower tragedy struck, raising concerns over the building’s existing composite cladding system, installed thirty years ago. Alongside the Principal Contractor, Trident investigated testing the cladding for fire combustibility. However, with the national demand for testing capabilities at an all-time high, LSPIM decided to fully replace all cladding to avoid delays and reassure future tenants.
In addition to the new cladding, a new insulated high-performance bituminous felt flat roof covering was fitted, later winning three awards. The system comprised new graded PUR insulation with a two-layer Icopal felt covering, guaranteed for twenty years.
The former single-storey brick reception at the front of the building was demolished and replaced with a striking two-storey, glass atrium extension alongside a glass staircase to the first floor, accompanied by a passenger lift, making the area fully accessible to all. For added security, containment was fitted below the tiled flooring in the reception to enable installation of a security entrance barrier system in the future, if required.
The building’s newfound brightness is reinforced by the choice of windows and lighting. Sections of the ribbon windows were increased in height to improve the amount of natural light coming in and Barrisol lighting was installed in the centre of each pod providing extra light. The Barrisol lights work so well at Aztec West that tenants have relocated their refreshment areas beneath these lights to create an ideal breakout space. Breakout areas were also incorporated within the open plan design ensuring the atrium is not just a reception area but a ‘third space’ for workers.
The open plan space lends the opportunity for tenants to personalise their area. The current tenants have very different set ups, but the space is effectively the same.
Currently, each floor is fully let by one tenant so there are no access issues. Original plans to install a corridor on ground and first floors were changed halfway through the project to keep the office areas open plan. But if the tenancy arrangement changes, the plasterboard ceilings and fire breaks that were installed along the partition lines allow corridors to easily be added in the future. The building’s previous design offered a unique and complex layout, but the refurbishment optimised the space and increased flexibility.
Transforming the redundant and oversized plantrooms into extra office space resulted in the internal office space increasing from 67,762 ft² to 73,197 ft², catering for 600 workers, with room for a maximum capacity of 851.
Due to the octagonal shape of the building, each pod area was separately wired with its building services, each with its own riser cupboard and distribution board, as well as wiring for the new Samsung VRF heating/cooling system which provides 10 litres of fresh air per second per person. The client also increased the available power supply to the building in case future occupiers required it.
LED lighting throughout, a new energy efficient heating and cooling system, good quality insulation for the roof and cladding, double glazed aluminium framed windows and doors all contribute to the delivery of this good quality, sustainable building, and the EPC rating increasing from E 120 points to B 36 points. LSPIM recognised the importance of achieving this improved EPC rating, not only for worker comfort but because they recognised the existing rating may have failed under reassessment.
To encourage a healthier lifestyle for workers, a bicycle storage area was built along with a new shower block with gendered showers, a disabled shower and WC with a drying room. This innovative use of space has also set a new benchmark within the Bristol office market.
Having access to nature is fast being accepted as an essential requirement for the health and wellbeing of workers. As part of the refurbishment works, the external areas at the front of the building were fully redesigned and relevelled with new compliant ramps and steps, seating, suitable low-level planting and additional disabled parking bays.
Furthermore, three external electric vehicle charging points were installed in the car park area. Each point can charge two cars and a small grant was given by the government for this initiative.
Environmental policy was considered throughout to ensure all parties minimised waste and ensured recycling was carried out where possible. The fact that the building was refurbished rather than demolished and rebuilt lessens its impact on the environment and fulfils industry initiatives such as the architecture sector’s ‘RetroFirst’ approach.
Though the size of the building and its unusual shape were challenging, it has not prevented the project from achieving everything it set out to do. LSPIM is delighted with the transformation and refers to it as their ‘flagship’ building, which they regularly promote to investors and staff. The full letting of the building with 12 months of Practical Completion is testament to how it meets the needs for tenants.