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CPMG Architects - creating places that feel better for themselves and clients

CPMG made the decision to move offices during 2020, signing a lease on the new property in December 2020 and occupying it following conversion and refurbishment in July 2021.

Prior to the move CPMG occupied a former 5 storey Victorian lace-making factory which, with relatively large floorplates and generous glazing had been well suited to a design studio with its drawing boards and layout tables. The evolution of the workplace and the integration of more and more sophisticated IT placed ever increasing demands on the building and our ability to adapt it to our ever-changing needs became increasingly challenging. Meanwhile the erection of a 5 storey apartment building opposite removed any views of nature, wildlife and sky on all but the very top floor of the building.

In 2018, CPMG ran the Leesman Index, a survey completed by all our colleagues to capture their feelings about our premises and how well they felt it supported them. The headline was that our rating fell below the benchmark average and key areas for improvement were identified:

  • welfare facilities
  • access to greenery
  • artwork and studio displays
  • variety in work settings
  • better toilet and shower facilities

With the onset of ‘lockdown’ as the Covid-19 pandemic took hold of the country we quickly learned to harness the benefits of video-conferencing and conducted complex briefings, workplace analyses, architectural competitions, routine project delivery and team collaboration, both effectively and productively whilst working from home. Our in-house Wellbeing Advocate supported our mental health, encouraging routine and discipline, our connection with nature and with each other. We continued to meet weekly – virtually - to catch up on business activities, play games and quizzes and enjoy gin tastings and our own Masterchef challenge.

The way we worked and interacted with each other, and with our clients had changed, in many cases, for the better. In the summer of 2020, we decided to offer flexible working contracts to all colleagues who requested it and implemented a hybrid working pattern for 70% of our employees for the brief period we were permitted a brief return to office-based working in late summer 2020.

Workplace Strategy

Having witnessed the tangible benefits a Workplace Strategy had delivered for our clients, we appraised our own operations and facilities:

  • our desk occupancy: analysing not only the shift in demand imposed by hybrid working but also the expectation from some staff that they can work remotely, even from abroad in some instances
  • how IT solutions might better support the way we wanted to work in future
  • our storage requirements: personal, project related, operational and archive
  • our welfare provision: social space, dining space and sanitary facilities
  • how we collaborate
  • break-out opportunities
  • formal and informal meeting requirements: numbers of attendees, confidentiality, supporting IT facilities, refreshments
  • quiet, focused space

With our lease due for renewal in April 2021 we saw the opportunity to move to a new model of working in a different building that would better support our aspirations:

  • a city centre location
  • an architecturally significant building with its own front door
  • connections with nature
  • improved connections with each other
  • a lively space, even when fewer people are in the office

Solution

We identified a building, signed a lease and fitted it out during spring 2021, opening at the end of lockdown on July 19th 2021.

With its front door situated on Bank Place, the new studio occupies a building that was formerly a banking HQ and then a restaurant before lying vacant for three years until we took it on. It’s high ceilings, generous glazing and large volume permitted the introduction of a mezzanine where the design studio, associated project storage, personal storage toolboxes and informal meeting space is located. The space benefits from generous south and east facing glazing, with views of mature plane trees, birds, sky and the impressive St. Peter’s Church opposite. Our team is, at last, connected: they are all together, whether technical, finance, administrative or support.

We no longer have a reception but instead we have a touch-down coffee bar, break-out and central social space - a space where we come together for gatherings, where we can drop-in between meetings and have informal chats with colleagues, clients and fellow consultants – we have an open-door policy – pop in for a coffee and a chat!

The connected welfare space is characterised by a darker colour palette of fittings and finishes and illuminated by concealed lighting and feature pendants over a centrally located natural oak bench which promotes chance encounters and further opportunities to drop in for coffee and catch up on emails between meetings. We have a ‘Shhh’ space too. Here, colleagues can retreat, assured of disturbance-free and confidential working. We know not to bother anyone if they’re set up in here to focus on a tender or they just need some ‘p&q’ – the buzz of the open-plan studio doesn’t suit everybody, all the time. Our ‘Amazon Drop’ tidies away personal deliveries until the end of the day and the array of building materials, components and samples that arrive frequently, until they’re transferred to ‘project storage’ by the project team.

The former bank vaults in the semi-basement, retain their heavy steel doors –a great feature for us to work with. Emerging into our basement break-out space, the robber makes his getaway with his bag of swag! and our Board Room and Project Room each occupy a former vault. They’re quiet, confidential spaces where high level lights permit views to St. Peter’s Church, it’s trees and the sky beyond. At this level there is also the IT and print room, toilet suites, a shower room and vanity area supporting those who cycle to work or need to get ready for a formal function or night out in the city!

Hybrid working is supported by a new IT system with laptops for all mobile workers and our IT systems including BIM software hosted with our outsourced IT support provider or in the cloud, meaning that whether staff connect to the system in our London, Birmingham, Nottingham or Hangzhou offices or on site, the experience is the same.

We’re settling into the space, enjoying it, enjoying being with each other and being back in the heart of our city. We’re still working with our furniture supplier contacts to identify new and exciting pieces to introduce in our spaces and to promote the way we want to work. It's a space we’ve aspired to for many years, and we’re delighted that we have been able to seize the opportunity afforded us by these exceptional times.

As a collaboration between our architects, interior designers, workplace consultants and graphic designer, it’s a showcase for our holistic approach to creating ‘places that feel better’.

CPMG Architects

PEOPLE. PURPOSE. PLACE.

Since 1997 we have been growing our reputation for designing award winning buildings and spaces that meet our clients' needs and that are also delightful places to be, we continue to grow and we have no intention of stopping. Fast forward to now and we offer over 20 years of cross sector experience from our headquarters in Nottingham and offices in Birmingham, London and Hangzhou, China. We are designing buildings across the UK and around the world, focusing our designs around human needs: supporting growing communities, building homes and workplaces, producing sustainable solutions, harnessing new technologies, educating young people, and cultivating health and well-being.

CPMG Architects

23 Warser Gate
Nottingham
NG1 1NU

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