In 1985, ABK completed a new office building for WH Smith beside their existing distribution centre in Swindon. The building plan takes the form of a two storey matrix providing a grid of flexible office accomodation surrounded by landscaped courtyards. This matrix is served by a diagonal route leading to the reception drum, the main entrance and a bridge link to the existing WH Smith premises. Energy conservation considerations led to a naturally ventilated building with automatic roller blinds to control solar heat gain. The scheme anticipated the future extension of the office matrix and provision for this was made in the structure at future connection points.
The client returned to us in 1994 with a desire to extend. The original building had proved to be a success and the need was identified for a suite of meeting rooms. These rooms were to have a different character which related to the more public world of the diagonal route, rather than the more private world of the office matrix. This relationship would help to prevent them from being used as private office spaces or storage.
The plan incorporates eleven additional bays of office matrix accomodation on two floors and a meeting room suite in circular form. This terminates the diagonal route linking in to the matrix and enclosing a new landscaped courtyard. The meeting room suite comprises twenty-eight six person meeting rooms, a twenty person conference room, a waiting area and ancillary accomodation.Photographs by Dennis Gilbert