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|Location:||Folkestone, United Kingdom|
|Client:||Saga Group Limited|
Located in the grounds of a now-demolished country house, Saga Group’s new headquarters provides workspace for 900 staff. The accommodation comprises two contrasting adjacent buildings - a steel and concrete framed office block, and a more playful, fabric-roofed training and recreation building. Known as the Pavilion, the latter houses a big central space for restaurant and meeting use and is also made available for community use.
The five-storey office building stands on the northern edge of a two-storey horizontal podium, which has been cut into the slope of the site. The podium has a courtyard carved out of it and a terrace roof, which forms a garden apron. Workers enter at basement level on the west side through a subterranean hall. This leads to a day-lit internal street, which forms an environmental buffer zone.
The block accommodates a variety of working arrangements from an open telesales area in the podium to luxury executive offices on the top floor. Cellular offices are located at the back of the building so as not to obstruct the sea view. Two towers containing WCs, lift lobbies and plant rooms, stand outside the main footprint of the building at either end of the vertical slab. These each include a circular stair turret, clad in glass blocks so that sea views can be enjoyed while descending.
The structure combines round concrete columns, steel transverse beams and precast concrete slabs with exposed, vaulted soffits. Services, including the fresh air supply, are distributed via raised floors.
The Pavilion is oriented to address the sea view and is flanked by single-storey, flat-roofed support spaces on the east and west sides. The roof structure consists of four pairs of steel arches tilted to the south. Tensioned glass fibre membranes are stretched between these interspersed with vertical glazing. The big central space leads, through a full-height curved glass curtain wall, out onto a terrace overlooking the sea, overarched by the last bay of the tensile roof. Underneath, taking advantage of the sloping site, is a nursery for staff children.