Practice what we preach

Prior to the acquisition of Voisin-Hunter Limited and our subsequent re-location to join the practices under one roof at One Esplanade we developed our own offices - practicing what we preach

The Project

The aim of the project was to create modern bespoke offices to cater for the specific needs of Buckley & Company.  The main requirements of the new premises were:

  • Close proximity to town - access to clients and management properties
  • Close proximity to the ring road - easy access by clients
  • Parking - regular travel to clients/properties
  • An open plan layout to ensure free and easy communication between staff
  • High quality design and finishes throughout
  • To construct a building that was able to showcase the company's own ability in procuring a first class site and undertaking a high quality development

The Team

  • Project manager:  Buckley & Company / F Nicholson & Son
  • Architect:  Richard Buckley - Buckley Gray Yeoman
  • Quantity Surveyor:  Colin Smith & Partners
  • Main Contractor:  F Nicholson & Son
  • Date of practical completion: 27th November 2006

The Challenge

In 2004, Buckley & Company identified the requirement for new office premises in order to allow the company to operate in a contemporary and appealing environment engendering growth and prosperity.  The team also decided that this new office space would have to emanate from a development opportunity.

The first challenge was finding a site which could meet all of the identified prerequisites.  There were an extremely limited number of vacant/redundant properties available and Buckley & Company had to use their knowledge of the market to find a suitable site.  Using their skills and contacts, the team relocated the owner-occupiers of the site at 43 Hilgrove Street, Avery Berkel, thus releasing the Hilgrove Street site.

Planning

An 'in principle' planning permission was obtained prior to purchase and thereafter the next challenge was to gain full planning consent.  Through the ingenuity of the architects, Buckley Gray Yeoman, in producing a contemporary design, which encompassed a hint of Jersey history, together with the specification of high quality materials, planning was secured.

The shape and location of the site presented significant challenges for the architects and the construction teams alike.  The narrowness at the Western end, with a curved boundary to the East, plus unusual ground conditions (it was unknown if the town spring ran under the property) and the need for shoring up neighbouring property, were all factors which contributed to the challenge.  The site was restrictive and positioned on a busy road junction, so great care and thorough planning had to be adopted throughout the process.

Construction

An in-situ concrete structural frame was designed to allow the building to be tailored to the site. The curved boundary to the East lent itself to the replication of a traditional "Martello Tower". The challenge, however, was how to treat and cover such a large curvature.  The original block work with a painted render finish would conflict with the aspirations for a high quality building and traditional Jersey granite was selected. This in itself presented further issues through its unconventional and unfamiliar use. Working closely with the quarry and stonemasons, the team secured a supply of individually cut granite blocks that could be fixed to the curved wall. These blocks had to be radiused and cut precisely to ensure an even finish across the wall.  The stone was laid in horizontal bands to create a linear effect, made more pronounced through the use of recessed mortar joints.

Parking

The availability of parking became the final challenge on the 43 Hilgrove Street site and an innovative solution to the company¹s car parking needs had to be sourced.  This came in the form of car park stackers, the first to be put into commercial use in Jersey.  This device allows two cars to be parked on top of one another, using the space that traditionally only one car would have used.

Completion

Although there were many challenges that had to be overcome in the construction of 43 Hilgrove Street, the finished product has surpassed the expectations of the whole team.  The result is a bright environment with high levels of natural daylight. The building itself is efficient and economic to run.

The stone wall has a high thermal mass offering excellent energy efficiency, whilst the deep set slot windows let in light whilst shading from direct sunlight. Pilkington Suncool HP 30/17 Glazing was specified to all windows to minimise solar gain and achieve the required 2.0 w/m2 u-value.

Reaction

The building has generated considerable positive comment from the general public as well as from clients of Buckley & Company.  It possesses a unique and contemporary design, yet blends seamlessly with the traditional architecture of St Helier.  The building has proved that the regeneration of unappealing areas of St Helier is feasible and can be adapted to create tailored working environments from sites which might otherwise be allowed to deteriorate and become an eye sore in the heart of the town.  43 Hilgrove Street not only functions as an office space, it is also a talking point and exemplar for regeneration of the town. The team had hoped that this would be the case and are proud to have achieved such a stunning final product.

In Pictures