The Memphis building is an impressive transformation of an 11th century industrial building into a modern and lively office environment. The Student Loans Company’s wonderful home for the past five years has provided them with creative and inspiring space that has allowed them to flex and contract in line with the UK economy. The developer’s “brave and ambitious move” - according to the judges in 2009 – has certainly paid off. The design of the former wool mill epitomises work/life balance and provides quirky and interesting meeting spaces, break out areas, quiet zones, a central café and a games area:
The invigorating workspace makes it viable for the staff to work their round the clock shift patterns. The continued success of this building and its ability to evolve over time is much down to the mutual understanding between everybody involved from the outset: "The quality of Memphis emanates from a very strong collaboration between a flexible and ambitious developer, and exceptionally focused and informed client and a creative design team," said the judges in 2009. Hung colourful sculptural materials provide visual and acoustic separation between work space and break zones and natural corridor areas. Bold primary colours act as signposts for new staff and visitors and bench seating at one end of the floor provides an area for staff to share lunch and relax.
The original roof has been utilised to produce a wonderful wash of natural light. The central board room is the one hint of luxury; at the touch of a button the glass becomes translucent to create privacy. The fit-out was delivered originally to a tight budget but the care and expertise that has gone into the design means that it has stood the ‘test of time’: The “contemporary and vibrant feel”, noted by the judges five years ago, is still there in abundance today. The stereotypical desire for the public sector to display austerity and neutrality in their workplace, to stifle accusations of self-indulgence, is not applicable here.
The importance of this building’s continued success goes beyond the building itself. Memphis is located within one of the old weaving sheds, which forms part of a previously derelict site of 200,000m² of factories which once provided much of the area's employment. This successful regeneration shows that Darlington offers a strong base for employers in an area not previously considered suitable as an office location.
Lingfield Investments and The Student Loans Company
tmd Building Consultancy
Faithful + Gould
Shuttleworth Picknett Associates
Rok (North East) (Interserve- current preferred Contractor)
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