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BOOTS Beeston
Our visit began with an explanation of the early history of Boots and the difficulties expanding the business within the centre of Nottingham. Jesse Boot acquired 300 acres south of Beeston in an area called Dunkirk - hence the ‘D’ prefix to the buildings.

The purpose-built model factories were all aimed at creating modern industrial environments – spacious, light and healthy for the workers and delivering an efficient, process-driven design. D10 was so efficient that it overproduced in the 5½ day working week of the time. The first 5 day working week in the UK was introduced with no reduction in employees’ pay.

The site was chosen because of its good connections with roads, rail and canal. D10 and D6 were amongst the first factories to begin production onsite in 1933 and 1936. They are Grade l listed because of their international architectural importance; widely regarded as significant icons of British Modernism. Designed by Sir Evan Owen Williams, they are outstanding examples of reinforced concrete engineering.

D10 is vast. Concrete and glass enclose a space more than two football pitches long. We all marvelled at the light and airy interior and the use of round glass bricks in the roof to allow daylight to illuminate the interior.


The site’s jewel of a fire-station is amongst the 4 listed buildings on the site.

Jesse Boot sold his controlling interest in the business to American investors in 1920. This enabled him to donate land previously earmarked for a workers’ village, to the City of Nottingham for the new University College, now the University of Nottingham. He also made large financial donations to make this happen. As we progressed we gained more of an idea of the progressive nature of the Boots philosophy.

In 1938 D31 was opened in the centre of the site as a canteen and social space for employees, deliberately separate from their work places. This building also accommodated the Boots Continuation School with classrooms, a gymnasium, a science laboratory and Art, Needlework and Domestic Science rooms.
A 15 acre Millennium Garden was created in 2000 to provide a quiet oasis for workers on site.

In the Boots archive we saw an interesting display of historical photographs related to the site’s construction. We were then allowed into the temperature controlled room where the archive is held. We saw a memorable collection of artifacts from Boots history as chemists to the nation - including the type of scales we would all have been weighed on as babies.                                                                           



JUBILEE CAMPUS Nottingham University

GSK Carbon Neutral Laboratory
The approach to the building is beautifully landscaped and the green roof provides a visual continuation.

As well as the building providing unrivalled facilities for chemistry, the focus on sustainability is visible everywhere in the extensive and visually stunning use of wood. This is most evident in the winter garden where we had our lunch. The winter garden faces south and its roof is clad with translucent solar panels.

The building incorporates the latest technologies to allow it to be carbon-neutral over its lifetime. The process of building was overseen by two quantity surveyors - one as usual for the building process - and a second for the carbon audit. Built from natural materials, the energy required to run the laboratory is met by renewable sources such as solar power and sustainable biomass. Excess energy created by the building is expected to provide enough carbon credits over 25 years to pay back the carbon used in its construction.

It was very interesting to hear that in the drive to lower embedded carbon they liaised with the German manufacturer of the proposed ceramic cladding and arranged for the tiles to be completed in one firing - rather than the usual two that was used for the tile cladding on other buildings on the campus. The manufacturer has since moved all of their production over to single firing.





The Ingenuity Centre
The Ingenuity Centre houses local businesses and national enterprises. Companies based in the centre can take advantage of the University’s centres of excellence and the ready supply of high-quality postgraduate students. The building provides office-based accommodation for start-up businesses and the design facilitates interaction between the occupants, whilst also providing more secluded breakout zones for individual work. The external appearance of the building resembles a motorcycle tyre - a recognition by the architects of the site’s previous use for a motorcycle factory.      








The Advanced Manufacturing Building
This building is composed of one simple, large volume containing workshop spaces, and an accommodation block containing offices, research and meeting spaces. The accommodation block is covered in a gentle mixture of gold panels creating subtle variations as light falls on the changing directional surfaces.
It was explained that the form emerged from accommodating the many site constraints. These included the River Leen and the estate entrance road.
Another constraint was an elderly scout hut that sat where the road is now. We saw how this has been replaced with a handsome new building which they insist is the best scout hut in the UK.
As we waited in the central atrium the group split into two groups. Those with enough energy went for the arranged tour of the building. The rest of us aimed for the café where we had a welcome sit down with refreshments.
The atrium utilises open walkways and glazed openings to the research and meeting rooms to encourage collaboration and shared working. The bold form of the roof lights, an angular staircase and  controlled colours create an amazing space, which is dynamic and uplifting.                              




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