Historically perceived as an uninspiring industrial town filled with passing commuters, Slough – a large settlement on the western fringe of Greater London – has had a slight image problem over the years. Not only was this highlighted in the mockumentary-style programme The Office, but a lack of workspace formerly marked the area as a stop-by location for those making the morning train to the smoky capital.
Now, all of this has changed. With an impressive architectural boom on the rise, particularly in terms of workspace, it’s hard to believe there was once a stigma attached to the region. Last September, for instance, Glassdoor identified Slough as the “best place” to work and live in a survey of 25 towns, beating Manchester and Cambridge in the top three. Plus, with the new Crossrail on track, the arrival of various new offices demonstrates the town’s growing attractiveness.
David Blair, principal director of London-based architecture firm TP Bennett, has observed the area’s progress: “[In Slough] there is a new wave of development being pursued by developers such as Landid and Brockton Capital. I think occupiers now recognise that Slough is a great place to do business and, as architects, we are responding to that with providing flexible, sustainable office buildings that will help them attract and retain the best talent.”
The practice recently embarked on a project that saw the UK claim its first accredited WELL Building Standard core and shell certified office. The Porter Building, a 11,150sq m development directly opposite Slough train station, embodies the ideal blend of location, wellbeing and locality. “Our plan was to create an elegant building that was inspired by commercial offices in London but also embodied the historic context of Slough,” says Blair.
Kristen Coco, vice president of communications at the International WELL Building Institute, says: “The Porter Building was recognised for WELL core and shell certification at the Gold level based on the number of health-promoting strategies achieved across all seven WELL concepts: air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind.”
It’s a noteworthy building, to say the least, especially as it’s the first new-build office in the area for more than ten years. Chris Hiatt, director of Landid, describes how until recently there were limited options for businesses looking for a decent space – Bath Road had a few developments, yet these were only business park-style products.
The Porter Building is part of a trio of Landid and Brockton Capital developments in and around the Thames Valley area, with the Charter Building in Uxbridge (featured in OnOffice last May and which is now home to the new hub for workspace pioneer Spaces), as well as the Thames Tower in Reading – a 15-storey contemporary office space providing a great new offering for forward-thinking workplace solutions.
“We strongly believe that the key to delivering offices fit for the future is about understanding what makes people happy at work,” says Hiatt. He clarifies how the Porter Building and Thames Tower have been fitted with space to be shared by the occupiers – which includes roof terraces with cafes and bars, while the Charter Building has an internal street that provides a breakout space and large atrium where those working in the building can integrate. “It’s all about creating that sense of community within a building – creating a place that is buzzing, that is what inspires us.”
Health and wellbeing in the world of workplace is paramount. Slough, with the Porter Building and its surrounding locations, is positively taking the necessary steps towards creating buildings and office environments that are fit for a healthier future.
“The Porter Building reflects the growing adoption of WELL that we are starting to see beyond major global cities and capitals. It doesn’t matter where your building is located, whether in the centre of a big metropolitan area or on the main street of a small community,” Coco concludes. “Every person deserves to live, work and learn in healthy indoor environments where they can thrive.”