The practice have designed the new £105 million Science and Innovation Centre in Hull, connecting existing historical buildings to a high spec research facility.
Scott Browrigg was commissioned as the fit-out interior designer for the KWN Building, the Humber Suite, the restaurant, grab and go and café areas for the new £105 million Science and Innovation Centre in Hull. The Centre comprises state-of-the-art offices, R&D facilities, open plan working and collaborative areas, housing the talent and passion to drive forward the latest discoveries in consumer health. Reckitt Benckiser’s [RB] focus on cutting-edge science and its strong sense of social responsibility stretches back to 1819. Together they have enabled the business to help people lead healthier lives and have happier homes for over 200 years. It’s brands – many of which are household names – include Durex, Nurofen and Gaviscon, to name just three. The Hull site has been a home to RB since 1840. The previous R&S facilities were housed in a building no longer fit for purpose, with building fabric challenges and not enough space. Ryder Architecture successfully designed a world-class, sustainable R&D campus, meeting the client’s aims to future-proof the business. From there, Scott Brownrigg successfully restored the historic elements, including the Humber Suite and KWN Building, celebrating the heritage of the site and the company. The Humber Suite is central to the space and has been restored as a new meeting suite; its position celebrates the history of the company. The conceptual interior design for the KWN office building relies on four key ideas: Reaching Out, exploring the connections between RB and Hull; Building Relationships, connecting people across the buildings; Uniquely RB, connecting with the brand; Movement and Flexibility, movable and flexible working spaces.
KWN has four floors dedicated to office space, including areas for collaboration, meeting and breakout. Each of the office areas is colour-coded for easy navigation and wayfinding. ‘Scrum’ spaces focus on flexibility, with movable glazed partitions for informal meetings and semi-enclosed private meetings.
A new staircase connects to the upper level meeting suite, which is now an area for presentation and collaboration, while the first floor meeting suite has been restored to its original grandeur, seamlessly integrating the latest technology.
The materials used in the more public areas, such as the main entrance, atrium and restaurant areas, have been specified to be as hardwearing as possible. In these areas, floor finishes are ceramic tiles, with a large proportion of these tiles being large format so as to reduce the number of joints and number of potential failure points. Wall finishes selected in these areas are again a combination of hardwearing materials, such as external grade glass cladding, metal acoustic panelling and feature timber wall cladding.
From early concept through to finalised designs, the comfort, wellbeing and physical environment for staff was at the front of the team’s concern.
The open plan spaces within the office have been designed to reflect this and the end product is testimony to the listening and taking on board of the initial ideas put forward by the client.
From a staff perspective, the new Science and Innovation Centre has provided a platform for staff to move from a very siloed, restricted work environment to a flexible non-territorial open plan workspace. Gone are the team boundaries and the rigid workplace seating constraints that once restricted and stifled innovation. The new space has created an environment where sharing of ideas and collaboration is made easier through the introduction of open plan spaces and a mix of private and open collaboration, while meeting spaces are equipped with latest conferencing tools to aid remote working. These advances in virtual presence technology have given RB’s teams the ability to collaborate seamlessly with colleagues around the globe – and to continue to work seamlessly despite the constraints of the pandemic and lockdown.
Employee engagement in the design process was a key element of gaining buy-in from staff. Employee teams were even given spaces they could design themselves. A ‘Dragons Den’ competition enabled groups to pitch ideas to the project team, with the best three – the Garden Room, Games Room and a sensorium space – then selected for inclusion.
More than 70% of all wood products used are certified with the Forest Stewardship Council
The new Science and Innovation Centre is designed to be sustainable and energy efficient. Where new construction was required, the existing building was demolished with materials recycled to provide the sub-base and pile mat for the new R&D building. There is a rainwater recycling system for WC and urinal flushing, as well as optimised energy performance, with photovoltaics installed; 310 sq m of PV was allocated to the roof. Within the buildings, there is easy segregation and collection of recyclables. More than 70% of all wood products used are certified with the Forest Stewardship Council, with all adhesives and sealants compliant with Volatile Organic Compound limits.
Environmental standards within the project that have been established and maintained include a site-wide smoking ban, the promotion of ‘active’ buildings and communities, active commuter promotion and access to local transit, access to nature, indoor air quality promotion, ventilation effectiveness, construction pollution management, while, as the site is located in a flood zone, measures were included to mitigate future flooding, including raising the new R&D facility 1,300mm above the local ordinance datum level.
The Science and Innovation Centre at RB Hull is in its own way unique – not least because it brings together elements of rich heritage along with state-of-the-art new build in one seamless package, creating a brilliant fusion of old and new. The existing historical buildings are connected to a bespoke high-spec R&D facility via an ‘Innovation Pathway’, which links all three buildings.
The Pathway offers a highly interactive environment for employees to use and enjoy, with places to meet and collaborate, and a space for visitors to go on a journey of the inspirational world of RB Science through digital media walls, viewing portals and viewing galleries, which help bring science alive.
What makes this facility so special is the overall blend of new cutting edge technology embedded within an old building shell that is now perfectly positioned and technologically advanced to propel RB towards its future aims and goals.
Scott Brownrigg has developed future proofing measures within the design to meet the client’s desires to be prepared for future changes and developments. The office layout is arranged to allow for soft expansion in the future. The desk centres can be flexed and can utilise additional services to increase desk numbers with minimal disruption to the live environment. Furthermore, externally, further expansion to the north of the site is possible to suit changing business needs.
Photography by Alex Wroe
CLIENT Reckitt Benckiser
ARCHITECTURE Ryder Architecture
FIT-OUT INTERIOR DESIGNER Scott Brownrigg
DELIVERY ARCHITECTUTRE & INTERIORS The Fairhursts Design Group
PROJECT MANAGER Groma Consulting
QUANTITY SURVEYOR AECOM, M&E Engineer: HDR I Hurley Palmer Flatt
FURNITURE DEALER The Furniture Practice
FURNITURE Gubi, Hay, Montana, Fritz Hansen, Icons of Denmark, Muuto, Vitra, HolmrisB8, Flokk, Naughtone, Mark, Workstories, Benchmark, Task Systems
OTHERS Planet Partioning