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Competition: BCO NextGen Workplace

The British Council for Offices (BCO) has launched an annual ideas contest inviting young talent to propose an office of the future (Deadline: 6 October)

Open to emerging architects, designers and developers, the NextGen Workplace competition seeks proposals for a futuristic but achievable office environment suitable for the social, economic, cultural, and technological advances of the year 2035.

Proposals must consider the appearance and functionality of their proposed office space and also explore the vision, values and drivers of the occupier and the lifestyle of the end user. Schemes may occupy any site in the UK, with all buildings, spaces, infrastructure, technology, environmental issues and services clearly defined by the applicant.

HGP Architects’ LandRover Bar HQ in Portsmouth

HGP Architects’ LandRover Bar HQ in Portsmouth

HGP Architects’ LandRover Bar HQ in Portsmouth

In its brief, the BCO says it is looking for ‘multidisciplinary teams to provide considered, forward thinking, and innovative ideas that challenge the status quo of today’s workplaces; and that reflect on the future of our organisations, people, and physical environments to imagine the office of 2035.

‘The proposals should show evidence of innovative and lateral thinking, but must be deliverable by 2035 within the constraints of existing or emerging means – think driverless cars, not teleportation.’

The BCO was set up in 1990 to research, develop and communicate best practice in all aspects of the office sector. The annual NextGen Workplace Competition is the latest addition to the BCO’s extensive awards programme. Winners of last year’s BCO National awards included HGP Architects’ LandRover Bar HQ (pictured) in Portsmouth, which topped the innovation category.

TP Bennett director and BCO NextGen committee member Cristiano Testi called the new competition ‘a great way to showcase the future of the industry.’

He added: ‘We want to see some innovative and exciting concepts and ideas, but also provide an opportunity for the industry leaders of tomorrow to collaborate, interact, develop their network, and shine.’

HGP Architects’ LandRover Bar HQ in Portsmouth

HGP Architects’ LandRover Bar HQ in Portsmouth

HGP Architects’ LandRover Bar HQ in Portsmouth

Proposals must describe the vision, values, drivers, brand, and output of the intended occupied and the demographic of the typical ‘office worker’ in 2035. Schemes may occupy any building, public space, urban site, brownfield site, or greenfield site in the UK.

Entries drawn up by individuals or multidisciplinary teams of up to four members are encouraged. The judging panel will include Make Architects founding director Ken Shuttleworth, a BCO board member, a representative from commercial property agent Cushman & Wakefield, an office occupier, and David Hamilton, director of projects at Malcolm Reading Consultants which advised on the contest.

The overall winner, set to be announced at the BCO Next Gen awards in November, will receive an invitation to attend the 2018 BCO Conference in Berlin with complimentary flights and hotel accommodation. A highly commended entry will also be invited to attend a dinner hosted by two key industry figures.

How to apply


The deadline for applications is 6 October

Contact details

British Council for Offices
78-79 Leadenhall St

Tel: 020 7283 0125

Visit the competition website for more information

Q&A with Ken Shuttleworth

The founding director of Make Architects discusses his ambitions for the contest

Ken Shuttleworth

Ken Shuttleworth

Ken Shuttleworth

Why are you holding a contest for a workplace of the future?

Workplaces are changing, the way we live is changing, the way cities operate is changing. It is vital that built environment professionals keep pace with this. Drawings of commercial buildings currently littering architecture studios up and down the country will, if they reach completion, be occupied by people not yet born. This year’s BCO conference was interesting in that almost all the plenary sessions touched upon how the workplace is changing, trying to predict the future. So of course it’s great that people who are starting out in this industry should tackle the issue head on. A range of ideas from a range of great thinkers is always interesting and, personally, I’ve never shied away from the extraordinary, from challenging the norms, so I’m looking forward to seeing how the candidates unpick the brief from a creative point of view – albeit rooted in viability.

What is your vision for how workplaces might evolve over the coming years?

In my view there has to be more connection to what is going on around us, to the wider infrastructure and context of the towns, places and spaces we are working in so that the building delivers on a variety of levels, essentially making it more efficient and more productive. We have long been talking about the need to design flexibly and build in adaptability, to be more sustainable and more conscious of the long-term impact of our buildings, but if we tie these views together within the context of commercial offices, what we have is a building that can provide for its users on multiple levels, to provide socially as well as for work. This might not necessarily mean a dense mixed-use environment, it might be subtler, but it will inevitably mean that it is designed more for people using the spaces than for the developer. It will be interesting to see how that is explored.

What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?

This is a competition that a variety of organisations watch with interest. It goes without saying that a competition of this nature will catapult the worthy winner into a whole new sphere of influence. I am all for anything that allows creative people a chance to solve problems regardless of tenure or experience. So many people are looking at this issue – developers/engineers/ consultants/media/architectural firms – I am excited to see what our under-35s can contribute.

Are there any other futuristic workplace environments you have been impressed by?

Bloomberg by Foster + Partners, City of London.

22 Station Road case study: Q&A with Gary Pemberton and Nicola Paul

The architect and interior designer at TP Bennett discuss lessons learned designing a new office block in Cambridge, UK

Why is it important to look to the future when designing a workplace?

Brookgate’s vision for 22 Station Road was to create a 6,000m² contemporary development that would meet modern-day commercial and environmental standards and offer future-proofed facilities, thereby attracting domestic and international commerce. In line with the increasing popularity of cities outside London as business locations, we wanted to replicate the high standards demanded by that of London’s West End, while retaining the uniqueness that sets Cambridge apart as a place of heritage and progress.

22 Station Road in Cambridge by TP Bennett

22 Station Road in Cambridge by TP Bennett

22 Station Road in Cambridge by TP Bennett

What were the key considerations in your design approach?

We put great emphasis on employee wellbeing and biophilic design, both in atmosphere created and facilities provided, which include shower and changing facilities to encourage active travel. We also took cues from hospitality environments, which increasingly inform workplaces. In the entrance lobby we used lighting to draw people in, softer pendant lighting over the reception desk to welcome them and a carpeted waiting area. Sustainability was embedded from the start and SKA rating criteria informed the design. Maintenance was a key consideration so we could create an economically resourceful building that includes energy efficient LED lighting, adiabatic cooling, energy management systems, intelligent controls and BMS systems. Flexibility was built in across the building, both in the spaces provided and the scope to reconfigure.

22 Station Road in Cambridge by TP Bennett

22 Station Road in Cambridge by TP Bennett

22 Station Road in Cambridge by TP Bennett

What advice would you give to entrants designing an office space for 2035?

People are spending more time than ever in the workplace, and so we have a responsibility to create environments that support them, in terms of both physical and emotional health. To stand the test of time, high-performing buildings and flexibility go hand in hand; and technology will have a much bigger contribution to play in future.

22 Station Road in Cambridge by TP Bennett

22 Station Road in Cambridge by TP Bennett

22 Station Road in Cambridge by TP Bennett




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