Inside out – creating a logistics hub from masterplanning to interior design
Architecture is a varied and challenging profession, with sectors and sizes of projects ranging from the single bespoke home to multi-million pound and multi-million square foot logistics / industrial hubs. Richard Smyth, Partner at SGP’s Solihull office, takes a look at a development in Northamptonshire where years of working with the client has helped deliver over 600,000 sqft of prime logistics space from masterplanning to designing the office interiors, and virtually everything in between.
Owned and developed by Prologis, Prologis Park Wellingborough West is a 65ha site, with good connections to the A14 and A45 and easy access to the M1. SGP worked with Prologis to develop the masterplan for the site, which received outline planning consent in 2013.
Explains Richard: “We have worked with client Prologis for over 20 years now, on a huge range of projects across the UK and we’re proud to be working with a developer whose aim is to create the next generation of logistics parks – “Prologis Parks” – where leading-edge green solutions are equally matched with quality amenities and a focus on staff well-being. Our long-standing relationship with Prologis has established a confidence that SGP will deliver what the client wants, even on a limited brief, and we are continuously scanning the horizon for the next new theme or focus which will make the park stand out – and make the units easier to let – by creating the best offer for the end user.”
SGP’s primary aim with the masterplan at Wellingborough was to consider the size and shape of the site and the amount of useable land and create developable areas or zones, with flexible plots and illustrative ideas on what practical sized buildings will fit in to each zone. The practice created guidelines for future units and overarching design parameters to allow flexibility for the tenants but keeping the site as a cohesive entity. The outline planning submission included infrastructure including utilities, detailed landscaping around the site and ecological considerations.
Zone A saw the construction of a single 379,000 sqft unit let to Yusen Logistics in 2018, with two 130,000 sqft Grade A units in Zone B completed in 2020 which have been let by Prologis to NNR Global Logistics and Linkline Transport.
Initially Zone B had a number of different planning options, from a single unit to 3+ individual structures, with SGP working up several bespoke designs for possible tenants. Ultimately the north part of Zone B saw the construction of the two units, facing each other.
Explains Richard: “In Zone B North, we finished by working with three different clients – our original client, Prologis as the developer, novated to the contractor Bennimans during construction for detailed design and finally to the end user for our interior designers in Leeds to create inspirational concept layout options of the office space. Having worked with Prologis for so long, we could take on board the architecture of other Prologis developments, and bring in design ideas that we were pretty certain the client would like.”
The design parameters allow individual units to adapt and change to end user needs, such as adding extra vehicle doors or canopies, whilst keeping in line with the site as a whole, allowing improvements but without upsetting existing tenants of older buildings. Specifically in the two Zone B North units, SGP made slight changes to the office elevations, particularly the window layout and proportions in order to offer greater visibility across the service yard area and improve daylight within the internal office space.
Having been novated to the contractor, Bennimans, to work on the detailed design, SGP became pivotal in the communications between the various stakeholders. The tenants were actively involved in the design process, with formal meetings and presentations making sure everyone was kept in touch with progress.
Richard says: “It’s easy to work with Prologis; they are experts in this sector and have been for many years, developing a strong team and reliable supply chain. For SGP, one of our key roles is to cover the ground, making ourselves equally accessible to all parties, keeping everyone feeling involved and informed, as well as managing the process, conflicts and communications. Being at the heart of the project also allows our architects to see and maximise any new opportunities that arise during the project. Innovative design ideas that work well with a new facility are regularly adopted within the standard Prologis offer. For example, the entrance core with grand visual links into the warehouse space at the DC535 DIRFT facility is now standard with all new buildings.”
SGP also took on the BIM Information Manager role on the project. Both buildings in Zone B North were designed to BIM level II standard, beginning in Revit which fed into a BIM model to which all the consultants, contractors and engineers had access. Asset data for each building component is contained within the project model and the data can then be used during the operation and maintenance of the unit.
This electronic modelling also informed CGI renders and a virtual reality walk through.
Continues Richard: “We are constantly improving our drawing techniques and developing ways of working to maximise the potential of our computer software. We have the ability to create, not only illustrative CGIs of potential buildings and layouts to support the client’s marketing campaign, but apply 3D visualisation techniques to deliver interactive walk-throughs of the development, inside and out. These particularly help market potential building options when site is just an empty plot.”
Prologis Park Wellingborough West has a very real consideration of its environment and surrounding ecology. The spaces between the buildings were considered an integral part of the design, not only to support a diverse ecosystem, with an ecological corridor and newt ponds, but also to provide green outdoor spaces to improve the well-being of the staff on site and provide a new amenity for the local community. In addition to a picnic area with benches, a Trim Trail skirts the eastern boundary with a selection of gym equipment and exercise machines, including a stationary bike, monkey bars and wheel-chair accessible equipment. The trail has views of the countryside and its verges have been seeded with wildflowers, to provide a beautiful display of natural colour.
Concludes Richard: “Prologis Park Wellingborough West is an outstanding example of what can be achieved by a team of experienced and technically sound professionals, working closely together and willing to communicate openly and smoothly with all the stakeholders. I feel this project is an exemplar of the new breed of logistics parks: practical, flexible, good looking and equally considerate of the welfare of the staff, the environment, the owner and the end user.”