Brutal is Beautiful in SpaceInvader’s Stopford House Scheme
The complete refurbishment of Stopford House for Stockport Council by Manchester-based designers SpaceInvader has now been shortlisted for a BCO North Award 2023. Stopford House is a key asset in Stockport Council’s workplace estate and was purpose-built in 1975 to accommodate a wide range of Council services. The Brutalist-style, 6-storey building, which has a net internal area of 72,505 sq ft, features concrete external panelling that matches the council’s Neo-Wren Town Hall building directly opposite.
When the Council came to SpaceInvader in late 2020 to carry out an initial workplace strategic review, this included assessing the building’s current and ongoing fitness for purpose. After a thorough examination of the building’s structure, services and space, the consultancy recommended a strongly sustainable stance for the future, proposing a strategy of modernisation through re-use and refurbishment rather than building anew. This route would not only save costs, but be much more sustainable, ensuring the project’s embodied carbon would also be kept as low as possible.
‘This was a fantastic project to work on’, John Williams, Founder of SpaceInvader commented. ‘A major upgrade to the building was needed, in order to provide a future-facing workplace for the council’s own team, as well as the best possible spaces and services for the community the council serves, but it was a real joy to be able to celebrate this building’s beautiful existing brutalist architecture and seek every possible way of re-using the building’s fabric with a less-is-more, circular economy approach, adding interventions only where necessary.’
The new workplace strategy informed the design and fit-out of the space, whilst firmly embracing sustainable principles. The building was stripped back to reveal key architectural features, whilst improvements were made operationally to make the building more sustainable. The new strategy ensured that peak in-office days and differing work types could all be accommodated.
With staff both emerging from the pandemic and needing to get used to radically new ways of working, the new layout now supports both a collaborative philosophy and a healthy social culture, whilst at the same time, mindfulness spaces and quiet rooms were built into the design to encourage colleagues to take a moment as needed and to promote wellbeing within the Council team.
‘The interiors concept was driven by the building and surrounding site and took inspiration from Stockport’s textile history, in particular the contrasts between soft, woven textiles and the built up, hard environment of the factories that produced them’ John Williams commented. ‘The relationship between Stopford House’s Brutalist building and the unique patterns and repetition this has to offer was also explored, feeding into the ‘Textile Towns’ concept with a unified relationship created between patterns found in this type of architecture and the patterns found in woven textiles.’
The workspace sought to celebrate a sense of touch through texture, pattern and textile in order to create a connected experience for its users.
The interior colour palette, meanwhile, is heavily inspired by the Stockport landscape, as well as art and textiles. The design team looked for inspiration to the LS Lowry’s paintings of Stockport during the height of its textile industry and similarities were drawn from the muted grey backdrops of the paintings, similar to the concrete base build of Stopford House, with pops of terracotta, teal and yellow finishes adding another layer to the Stockport-inspired red brick palette.
“Our Stopford House refurbishment project is an example of us investing in our workforce. We know that our people are our best asset – and having a great place to work is important for team morale, productivity and an organisation that has ambition running through its core. Stopford House is also part of our drive to become a more sustainable council, and the building was designed with the climate central to its features. Thank you to Overbury and SpaceInvader for their hard work in creating such a fantastic space for our colleagues to work from.” Cllr Malcolm Allan, Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources at Stockport Council
Client: Stockport Council
Workplace Strategy and Interior Design: SpaceInvader
Project Manager: Hive
Main Contractor: Overbury
M&E Consultant: Cundall
M&E Contractor: Hurstwood Environmental Consulting
Cost Consultant: Edge Consulting Engineers
Lighting Supplier: Tyson Lighting / Chiara Lighting
Carpets: Shaw Contract Carpets
Vinyl Flooring: Tarkett
Furniture Supplier: Senator
(Other furniture procured by Overbury’s FF&E team included pieces by: Mobili / Naughtone / Orangebox / Ocee / Connection / Johnson / Workstories / Frovi / Boss Design / Edge / Pledge / Verco / Gresham / JDD / Modus / Halle / Bisley / Impact Acoustic / Lintex / Hey Sign)
Photographer Andrew Smith of SG Photography