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Heelis – National Trust HQ

The industrial saw-tooth roof form and careful orientation of National Trust’s 7,100 m² Swindon headquarters bring two of the organisation’s aspirations to the fore: a wish to demonstrate long-term sustainability and another to maintain the character of a historically significant environment. 

Though architect FCB’s design incorporates a deep floor plan, the sensitive angling of the building footprint and introduction of roof-lights brings daylight to this two-storey building which consolidates 430 staff previously scattered across four different offices. Solar panels, in locations which maximise their exposure to sunlight, generate a large proportion of the building’s electricity. Ventilation ‘snouts’, designed to provide wind-driven ventilation whatever the weather, also offer lateral shading to adjacent roof-lights whilst maintaining a view of the sky. 

Ground conditions were variable below the initial layer of tarmac, with made ground extending to anywhere between 1.2 m and 3.4 m deep, and included a number of noted obstructions. We specified piled foundations to cut through to a layer of Kimmeridge Clay, and a suspended slab to allow for ground movement and provide separation between the building and potential contamination below. 

The brownfield site was once home to Brunel’s Great Western Railway complex, and still houses a number of brick-clad shed structures with corrugated roofs. A similar design was chosen here, with blue engineering bricks utilised on the majority of elevations. Timber was considered for the roof construction due to its short-term sustainability credentials, but in keeping with the industrial ethos a steel frame portal was chosen. Steel has a high embodied energy, but achieves economy since it requires a lower volume of material to span the necessary structural widths, and can be assembled quickly and efficiently. To increase the building’s thermal mass, concrete floors and roof cladding panels were chosen, with the soffits left exposed.

New eco-friendly, steel-framed headquarters for National Trust using roof-lights and solar panels

Swindon, UK
National Trust
Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios
£ 12 million
7,100 m2
  • 2008 Building Performance Award – Sustainability
  • 2007 Civic Trust Award – Sustainability
  • 2006 Dedalo Minosse Int’l Prize – Highly Commended
  • 2006 BIFM Award – Sustainability
  • 2006 BIFM Award – Building of the Year
  • 2006 Building Award – Sustainable Building of the Year
  • 2006 AJ100 Sustainability Award
  • 2006 BCO Innovation Award
  • 2006 BCI Award
  • 2006 RIBA Sustainability Award
  • 2006 IStructE Sustainability Award – Shortlisted
  • 2005 Brick Award
  • 2005 FX Int’l Interior Design Award