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Named ‘the smartest office in the world,’ Southworks combines technological and natural elements to create an optimum post-pandemic space – setting a benchmark for future developments.
Developed by MiddleCap and designed by SPPARC, the seven-storey, 70,000 sq ft scheme was recently named as the world’s smartest building at the Futureproof Awards, and became the first UK building to achieve the Smart Building Certification Platinum certificate, only the second in the world to do so after EDGE Amsterdam.
The new building in Southwark features a number of technologically innovative measures which, when combined with high-quality architecture and design elements, create a responsive and productive environment that enhances users’ safety and wellbeing.
Embedded with an Internet of Things (IoT) technology developed by Dutch proptech company bGrid, Southworks features a central sensor platform functioning as the building’s ‘brain’, with the sensors plugged into the HVAC system and lighting controls. The system also measures other environmental variables such as internal and external air quality, density, occupancy and noise levels.
The use of smart sensors and IoT-based technologies helps to ensure air, water and electricity resources are delivered cleanly and efficiently throughout the building, therefore reducing energy use and maximising environmental performance.
The office building is also equipped with the global tenant engagement platform OfficeApp’s smartphone app, which provides the building’s tenants with seamless access to a variety of services and amenities, including on-demand desk and room booking, F&B ordering, community engagement, issues reporting and communications. It enables touchless building access, live occupancy, environmental and air quality information and contactless temperature and lighting controls.
The building’s architecture is inspired by the industrial legacy of the area, achieved through a modern interpretation of robust materiality, façade hierarchy and surface detailing. The sinuous brick façade articulates the building’s form along the length of the street whilst its standout design feature is a stunning double height entrance formed from delicately constructed, technically challenging and handcrafted Italian crystalline cast glass bricks.
Internally, the contemporary and raw aesthetic continues with a deftly created loose-fit fit-out that will offer flexibility to future tenants for day-to-day use as well as events. SPPARC’s concept for the interiors includes a clean, minimal palette of steel, glass, brick and concrete. Black exposed services, warehouse style windows with opening lights and generous building proportions give the space an almost gallery-like feel. The form, colour and location of the services have also been carefully considered, creating an installation on the ceiling and displaying further craftmanship.
Natural light in bathrooms and stairwells showcases the design’s strong focus on wellbeing and health, and a series of roof terraces provides additional amenity space to all occupiers with stunning views across the London skyline.
Sustainable design and construction have been prioritised throughout Southworks to minimise its embodied and operational energy. Existing building materials were recycled and used in the new structure, whilst the main roof level hosts a bio solar roof providing a source of renewable energy and adding to the ecological value of the building. The building is set to achieve a BREEAM Excellent rating thanks to efficient building services systems, integrated smart technologies and its passive design approach with simple (yet unusual) features such as deep reveals to windows and openable windows throughout.
‘We’re extremely proud that Southworks, our first scheme in the UK, will set the bar for future offices in London,’ says Tomáš Jurdák, Head of Real Estate at MiddleCap. Thanks to a great combination of quality design, natural elements combined with latest technology, the scheme showcases an exemplary workspace that serves employees, the environment and the city.
This is just the beginning of MiddleCap’s journey in the UK and we’re looking forward to developing a pipeline of exemplary offices in London.’
Photography: Ed Reeve
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