Explore the latest projects from the UK’s commercial interiors industry, featuring the best of workspace, hospitality, living and public sectors.

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Bruntwood Works launches ‘urban oasis’ workplace, Bloc

Workspace and leisure specialist Bruntwood Works has launched Bloc, an inspiring wellbeing-focused workspace, as part of its £50m Pioneer redevelopment programme.

02/06/2021 3 min read

The re-imagining of the 16-storey office block has introduced a number of quality new workspaces, amenities and technology that have all been designed to improve workplace wellbeing and boost productivity for Bloc’s diverse community of businesses.

Bloc’s revitalisation comes as part of Bruntwood Works’ £50m Pioneer programme, which is creating vibrant, community-focused workspaces centred on six key pillars: biophilia, art, sustainability, wellness, amenity and technology.

Systems to optimise air quality, sensors to inform space utilisation and a Building Management System that supports the efficient use of energy within the building has created a place that truly prioritises workers’ wellness and enhances productivity. There is also a pop-up room that will be available for local independent businesses to hire – offering private consultation in areas as wide ranging as healthcare and counselling, and consulting and financial services.

The transformation has also completely overhauled the arrival experience at Bloc, with local independent bakery Trove taking space on the ground floor and BrewDog set to open a new bar and restaurant, as well as its first hotel, on site later this year alongside the introduction of a new coworking lounge, auditorium and events space.

A focus on biophilia and sustainability has also been included through the installation of an innovative, two-storey living wall that provides oxygen and helps reduce noise levels and a blue/green roof that reduces the discharge of rainwater and features wildflowers to support biodiversity and provide an additional thermal barrier. Created in partnership with Polypipe, this is Manchester’s first wildflower roof and also aims to attract a rare native blue butterfly.

‘Bloc’s transition from a corporate office building to a wellbeing-focused workplace is game-changing for Manchester, and we have responded directly to what businesses and their employees expect from a modern workspace,’ says Ciara Keeling, CEO of Bruntwood Works. ‘We’re seeing increased demand for quality spaces that not only provide a wealth of amenities, but support positive work-life balance and create an environment where people want to spend time – both in and outside of work. Bloc provides all this and more.’

Two large Trompe L’oeil murals, created by Sheffield-based artist Rob Lee, draw the eye across the new ground floor space. Replicating the building’s external facade, Rob’s ‘sculptures’ represent literal urban oases, signifying the symbiosis between man and nature. Rob’s work uses pattern, repetition and abstraction to explore the concepts of perceived reality and illusion, and the complex relationship between technology and nature.

The new living wall that wraps the external façade is another key feature of Bloc’s transformation. A Manchester-first, the HYVERT living wall is made from 18,000 plants and was created by I Want Plants, in partnership with Manchester Metropolitan University. It uses sensors to monitor its biodiversity and record how the wall is absorbing gases like CO2 and NO2 – an example of how Bruntwood Works is addressing sustainability across its portfolio.

An innovative grid of lights has also been embedded into the living wall by Artin Light, which brings Bloc to life at night with subtle waves of organic light. The ‘glowing’ wall will give the effect of delicately coloured blossoms within the greenery, contrasting with and softening the brutalist architecture of the building.

‘The increased demand for spaces that support hybrid working and further flexibility has made it clear the office is still so important, just in a new way,’ Ciara adds. ‘Through its blend of innovative workspace, lifestyle and retail, Bloc is setting a template for the office of the future. We need to create places where people truly want to be, not just a space where they come to work. With the addition of our new wellness suite with FORM, collaborative workspaces and an independent hospitality offering through Trove and BrewDog, we know that Bloc will become a thriving hub at the heart of the community.’

Images: gushiyin.xyz and Bruntwood Works

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