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BDG architecture + design weaves Manchester throughout WPP’s latest campus

From music to manufacturing, WPP’s connective and sustainable workspace celebrates Mancunian heritage through little details.


3 min read

Images: Phil Hutchinson

Located in Spinningfields, WPP’s latest 5692 sqm office is a modern workspace for more than 500 people. To design the interior BDG worked closely with the communication agency’s senior leadership team plus steering groups from different areas within the business. The result is an office that connects employees from all of WPP’s brands through varied workspaces and meeting rooms that cover three floors.

Art studio, Acrylicize, created digital artwork for the campus based on Manchester-centric elements – from the cotton looms synonymous with the Industrial Revolution to album covers by bands such as The Smiths and New Order, as well as Manchester’s worker bee symbol.

“The concept is drawn from the rich culture and history of Manchester and the evolution of the Northern powerhouse it is today,” comments BDG’s Louise McNally. “The ‘Manchester Bee’ was born out of the Industrial Revolution and has now become a symbol of resilience, strength and community for the people of Manchester – the buzzing beehive an inspiration for the high level arrangement of the building. This metaphor is used subtly as an organisational tool; from the ground floor hub, the working floors, communal top level and roof terrace.”

A ‘Town Hall’ presentation space offers a key feature on the ground floor, inset from a mezzanine floor made up of cross-laminated timber with an artwork mural to one side. Here, a full height automated curtain sections off the space when in use and a pop-up grab and go café and storage area features at the back. The mezzanine itself encompasses a tech hub with a mix of low and high seating, offering more collaborative space.

Overhead, lighting is made up of linear beams suspended behind black mesh panels and a number of communal spaces provide a space to sit or work, with biophilic touches softening the space and complemented by terrazzo flooring.

The open plan office layout features a proportion of sit stand desks plus meeting, focus and touchdown areas. The main social hub tea point is located across three floors within a double-height feature void, accessed via a steel staircase. The tea points and surrounding bar stools surround a constellation of wall mounted and pendant lighting and a 6-person dining table, acting as another meeting area.

“‘The Hive’ – or working floors – embrace flexibility, agility and varied needs,” adds McNally. “Interconnection is key for flow and collaboration – this includes open working, open group collaboration, enclosed meeting rooms of varied sizes & space for team seminars. These floors will also cater for all working needs, including those who need time for individual focus time, acoustically treated video conferencing rooms, enclosed quiet rooms for phone calls or space to retreat for creative reflection.”

An attractive arrival with lounge seating in pastel shades and mid-blue welcomes workers to floor 8, accompanied by ambient lighting and metal mesh curtains. Additional lighting comes courtesy of pendants in the circular seating zones and inbuilt into the acoustic wood wool ceilings. As far as flooring goes, the terrazzo continues, with feature rugs for intimacy.

A new top-floor social space known as the ‘Honey Pot’ provides a hub for the WPP community and clients, extended to the new rooftop terrace that has been enhanced with a prefabricated pavilion, providing an attractive outdoor area. Elsewhere, fixed and mobile planter banquettes plus bar seating to the perimeter lend spectacular views of Quay Street and Spinningfields. With its plethora of greenery, the terrace is a calming space away from the activity within the building.

WPP Manchester achieved a BREEAM-rated Excellent rating. Notable features of the building include reclaimed raised access floor tiles, electric car charging stations in the basement and a focus on electrical heating and cooling.

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