Network Rail, 2014

The new National Centre in Milton Keynes is a key element in Network Rail’s strategy for delivering a railway fit for the 21st Century. Their brief to the consultant team calls for a building to facilitate new working practices necessary to achieve the challenging targets set by the Office of Rail Regulation, while also meeting exacting environmental standards.

The motivation for this project is to create a modern workplace for a forward-thinking, dynamic company. The new building will be highly energy efficient and provide flexible accommodation for up to 3,000 staff.

The project team have addressed these issues with an innovative and honest design intended to catalyse the required transformation in working practices and which has achieved an ‘Excellent’ rating against BREEAM (2008).

Our recent project involved the installation of Barrisol membranes onto the atrium ceilings of the new National Centre built in Milton Keynes. The new building was modernised to ensure efficient railway service and maintain environmental standards that adhere to regulations mandated by the Office of Rail Regulation. A matte white Barrisol was installed into the ceilings of all eight atriums and roof lights and trusses were integrated onto the central atrium. Furthermore, the acoustic Barrisol was installed in 3D triangulations onto the central atrium, enhancing the lighting features allowing the design to “come to life”. This large scale project was challenging due to the high elevation which consequently complicated the heating process, however, the installation team successfully overcame the difficulties efficiently and finalized the innovative design for the National Centre.

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The design responds to the proportions of the site and the massing parameters set out by the Milton Keynes development guidelines. The offices are divided into four blocks, which are set out at an angle to the street line. This creates a spatial dynamic, both in relationship to the public realm and in the area between the blocks.

Network Rail is keen to ensure that the project delivers an efficient environment that will energize and motivate their workforce. However, as a government-funded organization with a high profile, it is also essential the project achieves good value for money under both government and media scrutiny.

In the office areas, natural ventilation will be augmented by passive cooling, while energy requirements will be met by power and heating from the local district energy scheme.

The upper floors are planned to achieve efficient use of the space and to support Network Rail’s ambitions for integrated teamwork. The layouts are designed to cope with the ‘churn’ inevitably associated with flexibility. High-level bridges will link the individual blocks to aid circulation and reduce lift usage.

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This area has over 4000 square metres of Acoustic Barrisol installed into spectacular 3D Triangulations spanning across the whole area and complementing the existing Rooflights. Each triangulation varies from 15m to 6m in length and involves a huge amount of secondary metalwork connected to the existing roof steels and forming the trusses to exact dimensions in order to make the triangulations and exactly mirror the opposite side which is imperative. The installation team again have excelled themselves given the challenging situation in this area including co-ordinating with existing services and working at height in awkward spaces. The sheets have now started to be installed and the ceiling is very much “coming to life”. More progress reports and pictures to follow as areas are completed.

The area between the offices will be enclosed to form a large atrium and will unite all four blocks. This will create a focus for the National Centre and will house the main reception, a coffee bar and retail outlets, together with space for informal meetings and socialising. The ground levels of the office blocks will provide support facilities including a staff restaurant, a specialist library and a gymnasium.

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The area between the offices will be enclosed to form a large atrium and will unite all four blocks. This will create a focus for the National Centre and will house the main reception, a coffee bar and retail outlets, together with space for informal meetings and socialising. The ground levels of the office blocks will provide support facilities including a staff restaurant, a specialist library and a gymnasium.

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There are 8 atriums in total and each one has 100 square metres of Matt White Barrisol installed at High Level. This involved a huge amount of secondary metalwork being installed around services to support the Barrisol ceiling which was intricate and difficult due to the high level location and although the ceilings were flat with no curves or 3D elements they were testing due to their size and the fact that install was made harder as the atriums were massive areas where it was not easy to maintain a warm temperature for the Barrisol Sheet install and at such high level. The installation team have excelled themselves in finishing these areas within programme in what was a very challenging phase of works.

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