Studio Life Special Edition - ''Site Life''
Posted by Interaction on 18/01/2017
Site Life: a look behind the scenes of creating The Castle
Looking at The Castle, it would be quite easy to focus solely on the look and design of the extraordinary workplace, and forget about what happened behind the scenes delivering such a complex and distinctive project. We step away from the design, and provide an insight into what it was like behind closed doors with a little help from our Site Manager on the project, Matt Prouse.
We look at what it was like transforming a Grade II listed building, sticking to a strict timeline, overseeing contractors, making sure everything is up to our standards and ultimately ensuring client delight.
The relationship between us and our clients is what we take the most pride in. Undertaking a project so convoluted meant the trust between us and the client had to be strong, but what was the relationship like and how did it develop?
Matt Prouse answers:
“The relationship between us and the team at money.co.uk was really enjoyable. I think it was very clear to them from an early stage that we had their best interest at heart and that ultimately made our life onsite a lot easier. Our scheduled weekly meetings were really beneficial for both parties, the regular communication meant that there was never an issue that the client was not aware of.”
“Added to that our weekly walk-arounds of the site showed the team at money.co.uk how special our relationships are with our trusted contractors. I think our transparent and open approach really instilled and reinforced this trust. These walk-arounds were also valuable as the client got to see the evolution of the work which built up a lot of genuine excitement, which in turn came more whacky and imaginative ideas that we always enjoyed!”
“The fact that we went on several social events and included on their mailing list shows how well our relationship developed”
Chris Morling, founder and Managing Director of money.co.uk says:
“We had a really strong working relationship with Interaction and it was almost like they were an extension of our team. We were never being told what to do, we were presented with ideas, and it was a collaborative process where we worked together to find things that worked and that we liked.”
The finer details
Despite the imposing stature of The Castle, this project was all about the finer details. When you take on refurbishing a 160 year old ‘Castle’, you may expect some issues with damp and building restrictions. But you may not expect to be flicking paint on suits of armour, sourcing 20,000 penny’s to put in a floor, or installing lip urinals; it’s fair to say this is not your average workplace build. Why were details so important in this project?
“The amount of fine details that are involved in the project is mind-blowing. We took the time to quality control every single thing that went into the building, this meant visiting every joinery workshop, making sure everything was up to our standard before, during and immediately preceding installation.”
“Delivering special rooms like the ice cave and Star Wars cinema, with very high-end completely bespoke joinery items involved a lot of the team’s commitment. Delivering these rooms involved a number of intense detailed meetings to ensure every tiny element was not only installed in the right sequence but at the right level of quality”.
Working on a building like The Castle, with it’s heritage, layout and condition meant challenges were plentiful for the site team. But what were the main challenges faced, and how were they overcome?
“At times we felt the building was constantly fighting against us, once we’d managed to overcome one issue, another would prevail. Parts of the building hadn’t been used for a considerable amount of time, with no heating, and suffering from moisture and damp; a lot of original plaster was just falling off. So the challenge was really restoring this precious and magnificent building back into a state in which it deserved.”
“Delivering a space like this was so unique, as some of the modern buildings we work on are built to facilitate a working environment, but The Castle was the antithesis. It’s astonishing to think we installed a state-of-the-art energy recovery HVAC (heating ventilation and air-conditioning) system and completely rewired the entire electrical system into a space with no ceiling, wall or floor voids.”
“One of the biggest challenges was just the diversity of trades that were involved at any given time, mixed in with the layout of the building created a challenge to manage. Considering we had up to 50 contractors on site at any moment, from 20 separate trades, spread between 38 different rooms (with little or no mobile phone coverage), was definitely a challenge. The only way to overcome this issue was with finite programming of rooms, ensuring that on a daily basis everyone was where they needed to be and weren’t being hampered or interrupted.”
After nine months on site, creating an inspirational and extraordinary space like The Castle, there’s bound to be a few highlights. Want to share?
“The top moments for me came from getting that goosebumps feeling, because after all the effort and time invested, everything you envisioned came to fruition. That reality kicked in the first time we saw the staff working in the space, because from a business point of view, this meant our job was done; allowing the team to function effectively. Another pivotal moment came from visiting several weeks after completion. I wandered around the space and got glimpses of people having impromptu meetings in the cinema, putting their feet up in the ski lodge, or exercising in the gym. This for me brought it home, I could see that we had really created something remarkable.”
Chris Morling adds:
“I absolutely love the finished product and am absolutely delighted, in terms of choosing which my favourite parts of the castle are is a tricky one. If I had to single out a space it would be the collaborative breakout area, ice cave and ski chalet; they all look stunning. The initial reaction of the staff was really really positive - I think in more cases than not what they saw was well beyond what they were expecting”.