Papworth Trust is a leading disability charity that supports thousands of people. They work from various locations, including their head office at Saxongate, in the centre of Huntingdon, which has fantastic access to local amenities and the surrounding area.
The charity began in 1917 as a tuberculosis settlement and in the last 50 years, they have evolved to offer essential services to disabled people. They offer a range of activities and support services which are delivered from their modern community hub or out and about in the community. Such services include employment support and leisure and learning activities.
Papworth Trust initially contacted Optrys for help with the redesign of their facility at Saxongate as they were considering relocating some of their Head Office functions there from Papworth Everard (a small village in Cambridgeshire). Saxongate was already being used by several sub-tenants but there was ample space to move teams across to here. As such, they wanted to refresh and refurbish the building to suit the needs of their staff, along with the customers who attended the centre.
As Damond Farguson, Senior Business Manager at Papworth Trust, explains, “It was important for us to be able to make the space more suitable for our requirements while also providing us with an income from sub-let spaces. Following our meeting with Optrys, we felt they understood what we wanted to achieve within our budget.”
As explained by Mark Perriton, Managing Director of Optrys, “We went through various different design ideas, block planning the building to make sure the investment they were making would pay them the desired income they wanted.”
The previous head office in Papworth Everard had 100s of desks and cabinets, along with numerous meeting rooms – It was an incredibly large space. The Trust’s head office had been there for many years but wanted to move into Saxongate, reducing their 100 desks to 30, creating a hot-desking culture. Since Saxongate was situated in the town centre, it was the perfect opportunity to update the building and brand it so passers-by would recognise them.
As Saxongate is a shared office building it was important to configure it to work for Papworth Trust staff, along with the tenants and customers who attended and used day services primarily on the ground floor.
As Mark explains, “The project required us to redesign the interior of the building, considering how the space was currently being used and how we could optimise it based on the needs of Papworth Trust and their sub-tenants. It was vital to ensure the new design provided the ability for Papworth Trust to get rental income from the parts of the building they wouldn’t be inhabiting.”
Further to the new layout, the building was looking generally tired and the air conditioning wasn’t working correctly, this needed addressing to ensure the building would be fit for purpose and presentable.
To achieve their goals it was vital to provide complete transparency of costings to ensure the project fit in with the budget agreed upon by the Board of Trustees.
Damond explains, “First, we proceeded to the design stage. We showed Mark the building and explained what we wanted out of it. Once the building had been reviewed and designs submitted, we were able to select the best solution for our staff, current tenants and future rental plans.”
“Working closely with Optrys enabled us to clearly define the scope of the refurbishment work and the associated costs. Optrys were then able to bring in their contractors, while project managing the sub-contractors that we had already brought in to begin work.”
Understanding the required accessibility of the building as part of the design phase was necessary to ensure the new layout would be compliant with recommended guidelines. It was important to consider turning circles and corridor width. Not only this but ensuring the day centre on the ground floor could remain open throughout the project was critical. It all needed to be considered.
Damond continues, “Once the design phase was complete and we’d revised costs to fit in with the budget, we were able to liaise with tenants to ensure we took their thoughts on board. Optrys then separated the work into four different stages to minimise the potential of any disruption. There was structural work required, along with design and fit-out in all areas which had to be split out into four phases.”
As Mark explains, “One of the most challenging parts of this projects was the logistics. There were existing tenants, including a radio station, that needed to continue working from the building while the refurbishment was going on. So, to minimise disruption we devised a plan to relocate some existing tenants including the day centre to elsewhere in the building, moving them back once work in their area had been completed. We also had to ensure any work completed would not disturb the day to day running of the day centre on the ground floor. Further to this, there are around six or eight flats above that also required access as their fire exit was through the building.”
Once work began, the project was fairly straight forward. Structural work took place, with walls removed to open up the space, glass partitions provided privacy while keeping the space open and light. The new air conditioning system was fitted, along with various access control and security features, including the installation of a comprehensive intercom system and intruder alarms.
Damond explains, “New tea points were installed, along with a new kitchen area, with plenty of open space to encourage people to interact. Optrys ensured there was a continuous flow throughout the building, which included designing and supplying graphics that provided consistent, but subtle enough branding in communal areas so as not to draw attention from the other businesses. New furniture was also supplied in keeping with the colours and feel of the new space. Optrys managed and supplied the workforce and products, including the carpets which incorporated our colour choice, LED lighting and all the decoration. The overall finish was corporate, but not overstated, which was perfect for us as a charity within a multi-use building.
As Damond explains, “The redesign and refurbishment of Saxongate has gone down incredibly well with staff. Having a community feeling was important and that’s what’s been achieved. It’s much lighter and open, making it feel like a more collaborative and social space. What’s more, the glass partitions, LED lights and new air-conditioning system have freshened up the entire building.”
“We couldn’t replace all carpets, but Optrys managed to ensure it wasn’t all one colour and were able to incorporate our chosen colours into it. It’s all about the attention to detail. We’ve now got signage that matches the décor and carpets. The colours compliment one another. The other main branding is in the reception area and break out areas, including branding for the windows.”
The redesign and refurbishment of Saxongate has gone down incredibly well with staff. It’s much lighter and open, making it feel like a more collaborative and social space. What’s more, the glass partitions, LED lights and new air-conditioning system have freshened up the entire building.