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City offices win regional praise

Three Snowhill and PwC at One Chamberlain Square in Birmingham have been recognised as being amongst the best workplaces in the Midlands and Central England at the annual British Council for Offices' (BCO) Regional Awards.

The BCO Midlands and Central Awards Lunch returned in-person to the ICC in Birmingham, recognising the region’s highest quality developments and setting the standard for excellence in the office sector across the UK.

The winning workplaces include:

Three Snowhill, Queensway, Birmingham (Commercial Workplace)
PwC, One Chamberlain Square, Birmingham (Fit Out of Workplace)  

Winner of the Commercial Workplace category, Three Snowhill in Birmingham is a Grade A development and part of the largest ever speculative city centre office scheme built outside London. The BCO judging panel commended the building for delivering an exceptional working environment with an exemplary range of facilities for its occupants and visitors.

Particularly, praising the emphasis has been placed on wellbeing facilities, including a gymnasium, treatment rooms, sauna, showers and clothes drying facilities for cyclists, along with cycle storage and electric bike and EV charging points. The project chose to reuse the basement area designed and built for a previous scheme and overcame significant technical challenges to realise substantial cost and embodied carbon benefits.

The design and construction performance was carefully and comprehensively measured, achieving BREEAM Excellent, EPC B and WiredScore Platinum 100/100.

One Chamberlain Square in Birmingham city centre continues PwC’s workplace evolution and has won the award for best Fit Out of Workplace. Taking the blank canvas of a Grade A office space, the fit out has created what PwC describes as a new ‘work-home’, a distinctive yet highly functional workplace destination for its people, clients and visitors.

The BCO judges felt that the sense of hospitality was evident at both occupier and visitor level, with strong sight lines across the space and positive wayfinding enabling the visitor to understand the internal geography.

Collaboration is at the heart of the design, with an openness in layout and intent demonstrated by themed floors, each purposefully embracing Birmingham’s diverse heritage and connected by a feature staircase. The judicious use of furniture as space division and planning offers the flexibility to accommodate different ways of working and respond to the evolving needs of the firm. An inviting visual environment, the space promotes accessibility and interaction, providing a superb platform for better management and decision making and a real sense of community.

Lee Jones, partner at Quantem and chair of the BCO Midlands and Central Judging Panel, said: “This year’s entrants not only showcase the very best of our sector, they also continue to redefine what best practice looks like.

"We have seen a number of exceptional working environments nominated for the BCO Midlands and Central awards, which clearly demonstrate the continued importance of the office. The pandemic has accelerated positive existing trends towards flexible and collaborative workplaces that facilitate agile working and cater for the varied needs of the workforce. It is also inspiring to see the growth of sustainable and energy efficient projects, which are maintaining the focus on the health and wellbeing of occupants.”

Richard Kauntze, chief Executive of the BCO, said: “I am delighted to see the BCO Regional Awards programme return to in-person events after two years of disruption, enabling industry professionals to reconnect whilst celebrating excellence and best-in-class design.

"Many of this year’s Midlands and Central winners have demonstrated impressive achievements of purpose in their designs, whilst demonstrating sustainability best practice. I look forward seeing how these winning offices perform at the BCO Nationals Awards in October and wish all entrants the best of luck.”