Three projects from North West named among top workspaces at British Council for Offices’ Awards

Windmill Green in Manchester’s City Centre

Windmill Green, Riverside House and Couchbase have been recognised among the best workplaces in the North of England at the annual British Council for Offices’ (BCO) regional awards. This year, the prestigious event was held virtually as part of the BCO’s Festival Awards Week, which recognises the highest quality developments in the UK and sets the standard for excellence in the regional and national office sector.

The winning workplaces:

  • Innovation award was won by Windmill Green in Manchester’s City Centre
  • Best fit-out of workplace was awarded to Muse Developments – Riverside House, in Salford
  • Best project up to 1,500 sq m was clinched by Couchbase in Manchester’s Northern Quarter

Windmill Green, at the heart of Manchester city centre, has been praised by judges for its comprehensive retrofit and refurbishment, which has created a significantly more sustainable scheme than the original 17-storey tower initially planned for. Its blend of environmental sustainability and social purpose is elevated by a sensitive architectural approach that made the building stand out to the judges – who branded the project as ‘the city’s greenest new office’.

Muse Developments – Riverside House, Salford, was similarly lauded by the BCO judges who appreciated the effort displayed by developer ECF in retaining and repairing its existing brick façade to construct a new four-storey CAT A office with a brand-new structure. In doing so, the team have delivered a flexible and adaptable office space that enables agility and collaboration.

In the city’s Northern Quarter, Couchbase’s UK outpost on Tariff Street scooped the prize for Best project up to 1500 sq m, with judges unanimously agreeing it ‘showcased the art of possibility’. In keeping with the area’s rich history, the team behind the space developed a workplace which celebrated the building’s past while delivering an environment capable of supporting such a future-focused business.

Phil Doyle, chair of the BCO Northern Committee and director at 5plus Architects, commented: “The North of England has some of the most creative and progressive office spaces in the world, and it’s always brilliant to see them placed on a national stage each year with the BCO awards. Competition was fierce this time around, and the ambition and the vision of the teams behind each winning workplace is readily apparent. Despite challenges presented by the pandemic, we’re still seeing the industry produce some exceptional examples of workplace design, so we look forward in earnest to the 2021 awards.”

Ian Aldous, director at Arcadis and chair of BCO Northern judging panel, added: “As ever, our entrants demonstrated approaches which mirrored the forward-thinking, occupier-first attitudes that employees now actively seek out from their workplaces. It is clear from this year’s awards that sustainability and employee wellness are not to be treated as ‘trends’, and will very much become par for the course within the future of office design. This continued emphasis on wellbeing and health is greatly pleasing to the panel.”

Yesterday’s ceremony marked the 17th of the BCO Regional Awards dedicated to the North. Held online, the ceremony was a virtual first for the BCO, but still involved all the usual excitement that makes up the in-person ceremony. Guests were able to network, celebrate with friends and watch a live ceremony, presented by stand-up comedian, Justin Moorhouse to recreate the magic of the traditional awards ceremony.

Additional workplaces to take home the top prizes for the North of England include:

  • Best corporate workplace was awarded to Tombola House, Sunderland
  • Best commercial workplace was won by The Beam, Sunderland
  • Best refurbished/recycled workplace was won by RB Science and Innovation Centre in Hull

Northern winners will compete with those from other regions at the BCO Virtual National Awards on Tuesday 26 January 2021. The BCO Awards will continue next year in 2021, with entries opening on Wednesday 7 October and closing Friday 27 November 2020.