Scotland’s best offices announced at today’s BCO Awards

24-25 Charlotte Square was one of the winning workplaces in Edinburgh

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SIX Scottish workplaces have been recognised at the annual British Council for Offices’ (BCO) Regional Awards today. The Scottish Awards Lunch returned in-person to the Grand Central Hotel in Glasgow, recognising the highest quality developments in Scotland and setting the standard for excellence in the office sector.

The winning workplaces include:

Capital Square, 58 Morrison Street, Edinburgh (Commercial Workplace) 

The HALO Enterprise & Innovation Centre, 27 Hill Street, Kilmarnock (Corporate Workplace

UK Government, Queen Elizabeth House, 1 Sibbald Walk, Edinburgh (Fit Out of Workplace

ONYX, 215 Bothwell Street, Glasgow (Refurbished/Recycled Workplace)

24-25 Charlotte Square, The Charlotte Square Collection, Edinburgh (Projects up to 1,500m2)

Cadworks, 41 West Campbell Street, Glasgow (Innovation

Highly commended workplaces:

Atlantic Square, 110 York Street, Glasgow (Highly Commended – Commercial Workplace)

Cadworks, 41 West Campbell Street, Glasgow (Highly Commended – Commercial Workplace)

Delivering 122,000 sq. ft. of office space to Edinburgh’s Exchange District, BAM Properties’ Capital Square has won the award for Best Commercial Workplace. Built on an extremely constrained site sitting back from Morrison Street, a formal drop-off space and entrance concourse was created as part of a significant public realm investment, creating new routes through the Exchange District. The building also incorporates private gardens, making a quiet space in the heart of the city for occupiers. With a brief to build a timeless building with occupier experience at its core, the floor plates offer stunning views across Edinburgh’s rooftops to the Castle and Arthur’s Seat. The BCO Judging panel commended BAM Properties for producing an impressive contemporary office development on a particularly challenging site, with occupied buildings to all sides.

The HALO Enterprise & Innovation Centre, Kilmarnock was awarded the Best Corporate Workplace. Located on a 23-acre site and previously occupied by the Johnny Walker whisky bottling plant, this is a four-storey building comprising more than 45,000 sq. ft. of office space and forming Phase 1 of the HALO Kilmarnock regeneration masterplan. This plan is due to create 1,500 jobs with an investment of £65m over four phases and the development will help put Kilmarnock at the forefront of new digital, innovation and cyber employment in Scotland. The project’s phase 1 brief was to design a state-of-the art mixed use facility, including lettable office space as well as retail and public spaces. Alongside this, the concept also had to promote collaboration with Ayrshire College whilst creating an environment suitably equipped for the digital and cyber age. The judges were particularly impressed bytheCentre’scontribution to the successful regeneration of the area and the inspiring environment in which to work and learn. The judges also commented that it has become a focal point for the community – with its design quality and clever use of lighting, it truly acts as an eye-catching beacon to its surroundings in hours of darkness.

The UK Government, Queen Elizabeth House, in Edinburgh, was presented with the Best Fit Out of Workplace award. Queen Elizabeth House was built as Phase 2 of one of the largest mixed-use sites in Edinburgh, located within a UNESCO World Heritage Area. Functioning as a UK Government Hub, it accommodates 25 departments including the Office of the Secretary of State for Scotland, the Advocate General and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). It is set around a new public square and boasts an BREEAM Excellent QEH accreditation. The building provides fully flexible, digitally enabled shared space, enabling its occupants to provide increasingly joined up services. The judging team noted that the Queen Elizabeth House has become the cornerstone of a new vibrant, mixed-use scheme in a regenerated quarter of Edinburgh. The building is also highlighted for providing a modern, smart-working environment with facilities providing breakout, learning, conference and collaboration spaces – demonstrating its embrace of the adapting needs of the workplace. 

A development that can be defined as a creative vision born from refurbishment and repositioning; Glasgow’s ONYX has won the award for Best Refurbished / Recycled Workplace. The success of this building has been achieved through a desirable, sustainable, and creative reimagining of the building’s arrival space and interaction with the streetscape. With a strong new identity in removing the former-stone structure, the design team have successfully disentangled the existing configuration and artfully crafted a series of connected spaces within the heart of the building. The BCO judging panel applauded ONYX for illustrating what can be achieved by using the existing fabric of a building and revealing its hidden secrets, as well as impressively saving over 40% embodied carbon – demonstrating ONYX to be a highly sustainable and unrivalled workplace offering. They were particularly impressed by the newly created entrance projecting out into the streetscape and making the building easily identifiable, specifically through its strong architectural presence now enhanced by a bold new entrance whilst opening the previous dark lobby area. The building is commended for setting a high standard for sustainable workplace accommodation in Glasgow City Centre.

The  Projects up to 1,500 sq.m award has been won by 24-25 Charlotte Square in Edinburgh.The project team had a brief of creating an inspiring Grade A working environment that preserved the Category A Listed building, whilst making it as comfortable and sustainable as possible.  

With major works carried out, including the removal of partitions, a new lift and complete reconfiguration of the lower ground floor whilst being delivered through the challenges of 2020 and 2021, the completed building provides an elegant workplace admired and appreciated by the tenants which realises the client’s bold and inspired vision.. The judges were particularly impressed by the development’s high specification of amenities, luxurious reception, circulation, landlord areas, which was praised as providing an elegant ‘hotel like’ feel. 

One of Scotland’s most sustainable and innovative buildings, Glasgow’s Cadworks has won the award for Innovation. With Net Zero Carbon in operation, Cadworks was designed and built with environmental sustainability and social impact at heart. Extending to 94,000 sq. ft of Grade A column free space over 10 floors, with a basement dedicated to welfare space for tenants and cyclists, developer FORE Partnership has left each floor of the building as ‘shell & core’ to enable tenants to fit-out the space as desired without wasting resources. Achieving an EPC rating of A and BREEAM Excellent, the steel has 80% or more recycled content, and the glazing has a minimum of 56% recycled content. Continuing to hold sustainability at its core, the small number of car spaces provided are equipped with High Speed EV charging and dedicated to car sharing, and Airlite paint has been used throughout, to convert humidity in the air to an ionised shield, taking pollutants and neutralising them. The building features an ‘urban village hall’ and was used extensively during COP26 to host many events. The BCO judging panel commented that Cadworks demonstrates that Grade ‘A’ office space can be fully sustainable and innovative. They were also inspired by the developer’s commitment as a B-Corp to ethical and sustainable material procurement from floor to ceiling.

David Dool, Chairman of Cooper Cromar and Regional Judging Chair for the BCO Scottish Chapter commented: “Despite more than two years of challenges in our industry caused by the global pandemic, the standard for high-quality office space across Scotland continues to rise. Not only is sustainability and tenant welfare at the heart of all our winners’ achievements but also the journey to zero carbon and priority of good ESG credentials for both occupiers and investors. This shows how the changing global landscape has caused our sector to reflect and evolve accordingly.”

Gillian Stewart, Director at Michael Laird Architects and Chair of the BCO in Scotland, commented: “I am delighted to see the BCO Scotland Awards programme return to an in-person event after two years of disruption. Finally, we are able to reconnect to celebrate not only excellence, but as importantly, resilience.  Today’s Awards show that the people at the heart of the Scottish property sector have continued to create thought-provoking, innovative buildings that allow both our cities and our communities to rebuild after a very difficult pause. Today’s winners represent not only excellence but adaptability and agility.”

Widely regarded as one of the best property networking events in the country, the BCO Scotland Awards Lunch was hosted by the inspiring Corinne Hutton, founder of charity Finding Your Feet.

Scottish winners will now compete with those from other regions at the BCO National Awards in October 2022. For more information on the awards and applications, visit the BCO website (www.bco.org.uk). 

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