DISCUSSING SUSTAINABLE BUILDING WITH SELLAR’S SIMON SWIETOCHOWSKI
How do you incorporate sustainability into the design of a building?
The importance of reducing carbon within the real estate life cycle has increased exponentially over the past 18 months or so, accelerated in part by greater social awareness of the climate emergency. At Sellar our focus is not just on ensuring the materials and systems that go into the build are efficient and sustainably sourced, but on ensuring that the buildings themselves are designed with longevity and environmental responsibility at their heart.
To design sustainably, you must think long term. We should be designing buildings now that generations upon generations will one day work in. At Sellar we consider how the context around our projects will evolve over time. Grand Union House, our project in Camden for example, has led us to invest in openable windows today so that as London streets become cleaner and local air quality improves, the building’s ability to naturally ventilate itself grows. Measures like this combined with grid decarbonization will see our projects becoming greener and greener over time.
On Grand Union House, we are reusing the existing structural frame and foundations rather than demolishing which will save thousands of tonnes of carbon and take dozens of demolition lorries off London streets, aligned to our commitment to improving local air quality. We plan to extend the building vertically in this case with a hybrid timber and steel frame. This lightweight solution allows us to extend the building without strengthening the foundations, again reducing embodied carbon. Our low carbon approach and thinking around reuse will help to shape industry standards moving forward for low carbon workplace architecture.
The implementation of smart technology is also central to the realisation of our sustainable goals; each of our developments prioritises data collection through intelligent building management systems that monitor energy consumption and assess potential environmental impact. This is vital for the optimal operation of a building, and by prioritising this from the outset, the building’s operational carbon footprint is dramatically reduced.
What are the logistics of creating smart buildings?
Digital technology is evolving faster than any other part of building construction especially as part of their post covid resilience. This brings immense opportunity, but at the same time there is a need to be mindful that buildings don’t become digitally redundant or fall behind the curve.
To address this risk at our Paddington Square development, a robust master system has been integrated that allows for ongoing updates and add-ons. This is one of the most crucial logistical elements of a smart building as it means new technology can be layered over existing systems and keep advancing the digital DNA of the building as technology continues to develop.
Smart technology can reduce operational energy consumption through smart heating, cooling and ventilation, smart lift systems that adjust their performance according to the number of people in the building, time of day and weather, enhance security through facial recognition and eliminate underutilised space through smart room booking systems. The technology that enables this optimisation is constantly evolving. A robust master system in place from the beginning is incredibly important as it means smart systems can be seamlessly layered into the building over time.
PADDINGTON SQUARE REINVENTS THE OFFICE WITH CLUB SPACE DEDICATED TO PRODUCTIVITY
The Exchange addresses how the culture of work has radically changed, conceived as a space that offers a curated blend of productive office environment and work-from-home comfort and convenience. Following a time where social interaction and collaboration have been largely denied, the expansive space responds by creating overlaps of uses that promote opportunities for connection as well as self-improvement, learning and growth, set within the acknowledgement of different working styles and individual personality types.
The current pandemic has highlighted just how much can be missed without chance encounters and the possibility to meet and exchange in person. This creative urge to bring people together and provide them with choice has underpinned the concept approach for The Exchange.
Set within the entrance to the 18-storey, light-filled building designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop that forms the heart of the new Paddington Square development, The Exchange will provide occupiers with a dedicated concierge, all-day and evening bar, event spaces, a yoga suite, meeting rooms, multimedia suites and an outdoor terrace which overlooks the new 1.35-acre public square and specially commissioned artworks. Through carefully planned zoning and the placement of design elements that are suggestive but never didactic, open working areas and breakaway spaces are integrated throughout with quiet corners for reflection.
The concept behind The Exchange reflects its name; inverting the traditional use of the lobby or foyer, and its denotation as a transient thoroughfare, to instead become a highly social and inclusive communal space for the exchange of ideas and sparking of collaboration. The space will be a pioneering example of what the office can be – not just a place to meet deadlines and attend meetings, but somewhere to inspire ideas, new connections and boost physical and mental wellbeing.
Occupiers will have access to an app that will serve as a digital concierge for the building, enabling the booking of shared amenities, meeting rooms, services and events within the space. A curated programme of group and individual classes, workshops and events will be rolled out for occupiers to enjoy as part of their work life that facilitates knowledge sharing, personal development and networking opportunities between fellow occupiers of the building.
The building app will also act as a security key for frictionless entry and exit to the building and provide occupiers with a curated stream of news, hyperlocal travel updates and stories from the community.
Working to Sellar’s vision for the space and taking cues from the world of hospitality, Universal Design Studio’s interior design strategy marries functionality with craft and warm materiality, whilst prioritising the wellbeing of occupiers. Bright, light-filled spaces are to be set with beautifully crafted furniture and natural materials like timber and terrazzo selected in contrast to softer materials in the seating areas. The collaboration with Renzo Piano Building Workshop on the building’s architecture carried through to a number of the interior design choices, including the incorporation of planting as biophilic ‘material’ to enhance both mental wellbeing and air quality.
The Exchange has been envisioned as the social and central hub of the building and is designed to ensure the space remains active at all times of the day. A series of meeting rooms, working and flexible spaces adapt to event and entertainment spaces in the evening, alongside an all-day bar and terrace adding theatre and encouraging the transition throughout the day from working to socialising.
James Sellar, CEO of Sellar, commented: “With the Exchange, we had an opportunity to throw out the rule book and design a space that truly reflects what people want from an office today. In a post-pandemic world where people can choose to work from home permanently, our intention is to harmoniously bridge traditional office requirements with home working benefits that improves lifestyle and supports wellbeing. Our partnership with Universal Design Studio and Renzo Piano Building Workshop has allowed us to create a space that focuses on productivity, wellness and much needed in-person collaboration and networking. The Exchange will be a pioneering example of a new, dynamic environment that has everything the modern worker needs.”
Paul Gulati, Director, Universal Design Studio, added: “The architecture of the Exchange is a significant volume and unique in that it is raised above Paddington, benefitting from natural light from all sides. Our approach, in collaboration with Sellar and Renzo Piano Building Workshop, was to integrate spaces that offer choice and encourage longer dwell time with a strong focus on collaboration and the ability to transition from day to night. Materiality and furniture choices have tactility in mind with the aim of creating areas where people will want to work or socialise when the day is over. We sought to bring intimacy and warmth into the space by breaking down the volume of the interior and creating smaller pockets of activity where a mix of experiences can be dialled up or down depending on the user’s needs and the time of day.”
Paddington Square is the centrepiece development to Paddington’s regeneration, due to complete in spring 2022. Featuring a crystalline building designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop, Paddington Square will present 14 floors of bright, beautifully designed and flexible workspace, four floors of shopping, bars, and cafes, a new Bakerloo line station entrance, west London’s highest rooftop dining experience and a 1.35-acre public piazza.
The development sits between major local landmarks Paddington Station and St Mary’s Hospital, and importantly at the intersection of abundant natural spaces and green travel routes. Occupiers will benefit from national and international travel links, reduced commuting time and new travel links with the Elizabeth line and Crossrail.
Workers and guests will also benefit from access to a wealth of bars, restaurants, and shopping on their doorstep in the wider Paddington Square development.
LACUNA PROJECTS APPOINTED TO CURATE MAJOR PUBLIC ART PROGRAMME AT PADDINGTON SQUARE
With a brief to programme both permanent and temporary artist interventions, the project team will work to enliven multiple sites at Paddington Square, including the large public square being created immediately adjacent to Paddington Station, a new landscaped restaurant street opposite the new Bakerloo Line entrance and the main 18-storey building itself designed by international architecture practice Renzo Piano Building Workshop (RPBW).
Lacuna Projects has been appointed following an invited competition The brief will activate the site as a civic space and urban destination, connecting to and working with the local community and attracting diverse audiences with a dynamic artistic vision, presenting different types of artworks from both international and UK artists. The public art programme will celebrate this new London quarter and offer opportunities for contemporary art encounters and civic conversations, for both those who work at Paddington Square and the many millions of visitors who will pass by and through annually. The Paddington Square art programme is scheduled to be unveiled in Spring 2022.
“We are delighted to develop a public realm art programme that embodies Paddington Square’s unique urban vision and reflects the evolving discourses of life and culture today. Our curatorial approach sheds light on the best of contemporary public art and thrives on the valuable contributions of the local community and the creative potential of Paddington Square.” – Stella Ioannou and Jade Niklai, Lacuna Projects
“We are passionate about art and design, and are delighted to have appointed Stella and the Lacuna team, who will play a crucial role in shaping and implementing a high-profile series of commissions at Paddington Square. Their track record in delivering impactful public art projects was matched by a forward-looking curatorial approach that mirrored our own ambition to create inspirational cultural moments for our communities, the Paddington area, and for London. We very much looking forward to unveiling our plans, and the commissions themselves, as Paddington Square moves towards its public opening in 2022” – James Sellar, CEO of Sellar