Dacorum Borough Council has taken the first step towards its new headquarters as planning permission was granted for the first phase of a development that will see a major regeneration of the town centre of Hemel Hempstead. The new 70,000 sq ft office building, to be called ’The Forum’ is a physical manifestation of the council’s commitment to openness, accessibility and longevity.
Designed by architects Aukett Swanke, the new three-storey building will be the nerve centre for the council’s administrative activities, the seat for its formal civic duties and ceremonies and also the meeting point for day to day interaction between the public and council officers and other local voluntary bodies. The building’ design will lift the spirit and engender a sense of pride in the community to council workers and their customers alike. At ground level a new library will form the heart of a major new communal space with an atrium reaching to the roof of the building, creating a light and airy space for the main focus of public activity. The floors above will house a mix of further public spaces as well private offices for staff.
Aukett Swanke won an OJEU consortia bid with the Development Manager Endurance Estates and Contractor RG Carter during mid-2014. The Gade Zone Regeneration is part of a wider regeneration programme envisaged within the Council’s landholding at the heart of Hemel Hempstead. The proposed masterplan includes the PSQ building, a 200-unit residential development as well as a retirement home and associated commercial and leisure uses such as a cinema, restaurants and small scale retail.
Mark Gaynor at Dacorum Borough Council said: “We are looking to achieve a number of outcomes through our regeneration plans. The creation of a truly community based facility bringing public and voluntary sector services together alongside a tangible demonstration of private sector investment in new homes and commercial facilities. The Forum will develop alongside a radical modernisation of the shopping and leisure offer together with bringing back the Water Gardens to their former glory.”
Elias Niazi, Design Principal at Aukett Swanke said: “This building is a tangible manifestation of the Council’s regeneration aspirations for Hemel Hempstead. It underscores the fundamental role that exemplar design has in creating a focal point at the heart of the town centre. The PSQ building will be a landmark structure, with a clearly expressed civic character imbued with a sense of pride in the community.”Location: Hemel Hempstead, England
Architect: Aukett Swanke
Landscape architect: Turkington Martin
Type of project: office
Client: Dacorum Borough Council
Planning consultant: Bidwells
Structural engineer: RC Carter Design
M&E consultant: Aecom
Quantity surveyor: Marstan BDB
Lighting consultant: Aecom
Main contractor: RG Carter
Funding: Dacorum Borough Council + Partners
Tender date: March 2015
Start on site date: May 2015
Completion date: November 2016
Contract duration: 18 months
Gross internal floor area: 6,800m²
Total cost: £15million