Client: British Telecommunications plc
Contractor: Balfour Beatty
Architect: Bennetts Associates
Type of works: TorLock lock-down system was used throughout the 11,000m² building with HFH
Hewetson Floors supplied and fitted raised access floors throughout Alexander Graham Bell House, BT's flagship new offices in Edinburgh. Commissioned by BT Properties, it is a major element in BT's Workstyle 2000 drive to provide high-quality, efficient office space for an increasingly mobile workforce and to improve the working environment for all BT staff. Its design embodies much modern thinking on workspace flexibility, low running cost and environmentally-friendly technology.
In line with the building's green aspirations, day-light and fresh air are drawn deep into the building via a succession of five roof-lit atria around-which pairs of narrow office floorplates are organised. A reception area and internal garden are located within two larger atria and reflecting modern hotel office trends, a touchdown centre provides plug-in desk facilities for non-resident BT staff. Conventional air conditioning is avoided, by means of a floor level air displacement system, with active cooling only in peak summer periods. Passive cooling is provided by exposed concrete coffers, which funnel warm air towards the atrium rooflights, for extraction and recycling as part of a heat reclamation system.
In keeping with the flexible nature of the office space, raised access floors was specified throughout the building. Finished floor heights are generous, ranging from 400 to 600mm, reflecting the many kilometres of hard wiring and air ducting accommodated in the floor void.
TorLock medium grade was selected by design-and-build contractor Balfour Beatty for most areas of the building. Although the panel is slim-line, it is robust. A major factor in its selection was the fully-steel encapsulated system's resistance to edge damage when being accessed, Balfour Beatty QS Mark Hamilton mentions that technical guidance on pedestal fixing resulted in a saving of £1 per square metre installed. Before a final decision was taken, on-site tests were first carried out to satisfy the client and architect that this cost-effective alternative fully met the performance specification.
Access floors used throughout the 11,000m² installation. The TorLock panels were covered with carpet tiles in offices and with high quality finishes such as marble or wood, in public and circulation areas where access is not an issue. HFH, a heavy-grade loose-lay system with factory-laminated vinyl covering was used in areas such as PABX and plant rooms. The systems shared a single pedestal design, a useful factor in simplifying specification, installation and future maintenance.