Constructed from a steel frame exoskeleton and insulated with Kingspan panels, the project has employed tried-and-tested construction methods to maximise efficiency and minimise impact on the landscape.
The colour palette has been driven by the rich tones of the quarry and is used to subtly to distinguish the different functions of the spaces within: the ground floor production spaces are clad in a light grey, micro- rib insulated panel; the plant and storage space is a deep red, sinusoidal panel, and the offices are over- clad with rough sawn Siberian larch.
Inside an open plan office with adjacent meeting rooms overlooks the quarry wall. On the same floor, a communal light-filled canteen offers views into the triple height production space beyond. At the centre of this plan is a development kitchen, where new recipes are tried and tested.
The generous production floor with 5m high ceilings has been space planned to streamline the production flow - goods arrival, storage, preparation, cooking, packaging and dispatch - in a linear arrangement. The space will accommodate 10 production lines running simultaneously. A double height space at the centre of the plan brings together the office and production staff through a visual connection at the moment that the cooked ingredients are assembled. The nicknamed ‘heroic space’ celebrates both the food and the Charlie Bigham’s community.
The design prioritises well-being through abundant natural light, natural ventilation, and expansive views of the surroundings. Passive ceiling vents and openable roof lights draw air through the building and allow the offices and communal spaces to be naturally ventilated. The design celebrates the extraordinary environment of the surrounding quarry by placing expansive windows at the end of each primary axis through the production floor, so that there is always a view out and a visual connection back to the landscape.
All employees – whether office or production staff – will enter the building via a generously–scaled, timber entrance tower – sharing the same sequence of entry, a strategy to encourage a collaborative and non- hierarchical atmosphere between co-workers.
The building has won an RIBA South West Award and was pronounced RIBA South West Building of the Year 2018.