DLA Architecture has completed the radical interior design project for the new 70,000 ft² headquarters of Home Group in Newcastle.
Home Group is one of the UK’s largest providers of housing, health and care, employing nearly 3,000 colleagues. With a turnover of around £430 million, the North-East based social enterprise provides homes for over 120,000 customers across 55,000 properties in England and Scotland.
One Strawberry Lane, a prominent new building in Newcastle city centre, is one of the first workspace in the UK to be specifically designed for the new post-Covid way of working. It is also one of only 80 buildings in the world to receive Smartscore certification – the highest possible global accreditation for modern buildings.
DLA won an invited competition to design the CAT-B workplace fitout during lockdown with a brief very much led by the need for the new HQ to respond to the anticipated next generation of hybrid working with equality of experience and a variety of activity settings for all types of people and business functions. DLA also used its extensive CAT-A knowledge and experience to review and improve elements of the base build CAT-A design.
Whilst the majority of the building is the new head office for Home Group, two of the five floors are being let to external organisations. One Strawberry Lane aims to be an inclusive space which can bring organisations and city stakeholders together, as well as being a hub in support of the city’s voluntary, community and social enterprise sector (VCSE).
The DLA design approach from the outset was to amplify the benefits of being in the office in a dynamic, collaborative, environment more akin to a theatre stage than traditional office. Designed for ultimate flexibility, the workplace accommodates a wide array of scenarios and settings. To create real flexibility, DLA looked to urban design for inspiration and translated them to the workplace interiors.
Routes have been carved out between hubs of core infrastructure, such as tea points or scanning facilities, dividing the floorplate into flexible zones that can be programmed for different work settings. These zones can be enclosed for focused work, opened up with different furniture programmes for cluster gatherings, or combined for larger social events. This innovative approach was developed through detailed workshops with the people of Home Group to understand their views on the future of work and how to foster collaboration, excitement, and equality through design.
Aesthetically, quirkiness and colour has been taken from more domestic environments to bring the work and home atmospheres closer together. Greenery and landscape design greatly influenced the top floor with its patio, green and forest spaces. This greenery cascades down the central stairwell down a green wall, as a lively, biophilic connection through the building, that starts at the café and entrance.
Neil Matthews, Director in the London Office of DLA Architecture, said:
“Led by a truly inspirational and creative Chief Executive, Home Group placed its people and communities at the very centre of the brief. This allowed us an opportunity to implement many innovative ideas that we have been developing for some time and create a ground-breaking post-covid working environment. This workspace is like no other – it combines flexibility and innovation with our prime goal to improve the wellness of occupiers.”
Kitson Keen, Director of Development at Home Group, said:
“The initial feedback from our teams has been phenomenal. DLA Architecture’s interior design will bring so many benefits to our company culture, our ability to collaborate, innovate and of course integrate with local businesses, organisations, and communities. Who would want to work from home when your workspace looks like this?!”
One Strawberry Lane was developed by Ask Real Estate and built by BAM. Ryder Architecture designed the CAT-A new building whilst Overbury delivered the fit out for Home Group.
Peter Knight, Managing Director at Overbury, said:
“There’s no denying that this project has delivered on Home Group’s forward-thinking workplace strategy. We’re proud to have been part of the delivery team and help generate £6.4m in social value across the six-month project. This represents an 86% return for the local community for every penny on the project. This result is testament to Home Group and the wider delivery team’s commitment to leaving a positive legacy in the communities our work affects.”
DLA Architecture is a Top 100 practice. As well as designing exceptional buildings and public realm the practice also has strong expertise in commercial interiors. It has delivered refurbishment design for schemes including Nash House, 15 Stratford Place, 31 Bruton Place, and St James Square, all prominent buildings in Mayfair, London.
DLA Architecture is an award-winning architecture company with offices in London, Leeds, and Manchester. Its expertise covers a broad range of sectors including workplace, residential mixed-use, learning, sport, industry, retail, conservation, and re-use.