Real estate investment management firm AEW UK purchased Dorking Business Park in its entirety with the intention of developing an outstanding and contemporary office park campus. Working with AEW’s Project Management team, Workman LLP, we were tasked with undertaking the shell and core refurbishment of Building One – the largest in the business park’s portfolio – and Building Five. To modernise the Park, the 1980s office buildings required significant interior and exterior refurbishment, including a review of all existing landscaping and wayfinding. The outcome needed to maximise the net internal areas (NIA) and provide accommodation benefiting from modern sustainability standards.
The internal scope of works involved a substantial modification of the entrance atrium space and second floor core and open plan accommodation. The atrium staircase and landing spaces were significantly remodelled to create open vistas and a more coherent entrance environment. The inherited second floor space was sub-prime accommodation, compromising the building's overall potential and appeal. To overcome this significant impediment, large dormer windows were installed to flood this space with natural light, ceiling heights were modified, fully accessible flooring was installed and the NIA was improved.
Building One now has 30,000 sq ft of prime office space. New services and curtain wall glazing has contributed to this redevelopment being awarded a BREEAM ‘Very Good’ rating. The building’s exterior and adjacent landscaping formed part of this project's overall development strategy. Significant remodelling to the front elevation has dramatically improved the buildings function and character. Due to Building One’s proximity to the Park entrance, an overall improvement to Dorking Office Park’s identity and outward facing appeal has been achieved.
DBP’s collection of buildings are all linked by a central, tree-lined road or ‘avenue’. Whilst this was functionally fine, it was proving a challenge when it was considered against the context of a coherent office park environment and identity. Traffic speed was excessive, lighting, branding and wayfinding were poor, and buildings were obscured due to dense and mature landscaping. To address these issues, a comprehensive review was undertaken to explore how these challenges could be addressed without creating consequential issues or destroying existing characteristics that were beneficial and important to the Park’s overall attraction and to AEW’s original investment.
Eventually, a blueprint was developed that explored strategic traffic calming measures, including key crossing points to the primary road access. A mixed lighting solution was implemented covering necessary road and access routes as well as ambient solutions enhancing individual building identities. Wayfinding and branding solutions are now subtle but decisive in understanding where businesses live and how to find them. Car parking numbers were subtly improved by exploiting inefficient areas. External seating was installed to promote a softer and more inclusive purpose. Developing the individual buildings and maximising their potential was always our primary concern and challenge. Not underestimating the overall impact of a range of external solutions has proved to be a vital ingredient in the success of this project – and more so due to its campus context.
Building Five formed the first phase of DBP’s redevelopment. The smaller of the two buildings, but similar in existing spec and condition to Building One, represented an opportunity for us to explore a range of design and redevelopment ideas. These were iterated and refined and, ultimately, informed the refurbishment philosophy for Building One - and they will now go on to represent the Park’s overall redeveloped philosophy. Overlapping with the beginning of the Building One site works, this long time vacant two-storey building was delivered to AEW as a fully refurbished and contemporary space benefitting from new services, cores (including new lifts), glazed curtain walling and a comprehensive reworking of adjacent exterior hard/soft landscaping.