5 Advocate’s Close in Edinburgh honoured as one of UK’s best workplaces

5 Advocates Close exterior Oct17Edinburgh’s 5 Advocate’s Close was last night named among the best workplaces in the country at the British Council for Offices (BCO) annual National Awards, having been recognised as Highly Commended in the Projects up to 1,500 sq.m. category.

The National Awards programme recognises top quality office design and functionality and sets the standard for excellence across the office sector in the UK. Over 1,380 of the country’s top developers, occupiers, architects and designers, who won their category in the 2017 Regional Awards programme, attended last night’s dinner, hoping to take home the National Award for their category.

Situated in the heart of Edinburgh’s World Heritage site, the judges noted that, architecturally, 5 Advocate’s Close performs a number of key urban design roles. It re-establishes the enclosure of The Close at pedestrian level, they stated, whilst maintaining key views from the Royal Mile to the Scott Monument and New Town beyond. Nestling comfortably into the site amidst the towering historic setting, judges praised Morgan McDonnell Architecture’s design, which reaches out as The Close falls away, to form a portal entrance to the new pedestrian link to the New Steps, creating activity and vibrancy to the roots around the building.

The judging panel also recognised that this development was undeniably challenging to build, with no crane or machinery access, meaning it was essentially built by hand. They praised the full height glazing and a polished concrete flooring system which creates a sharp, contemporary aesthetic, while varied spaces and bespoke furniture complete a unique and comfortable workplace. The judges were also pleasantly surprised by the unexpected outdoor terrace which opens from both breakout and office space providing a quiet haven from the busy interior.

Stephen Lewis, chair of the BCO judging panel in Scotland, said: “To build in the epicentre of a world heritage site demands not only genuine understanding of the surrounding architecture but also incredibly refined skills. 5 Advocate’s Close fully embodies Morgan McDonnell’s understanding of the world-renowned history of the site; and the new building now has its own story to tell, thanks to the equally innovative and traditional skills required to bring it to life. Being Highly Commended at the national awards demonstrates that this development offers space to rival anywhere in the UK, but with a rich history found nowhere else.”

Richard Kauntze, chief executive of the BCO, said: “An undeniable challenge, 5 Advocate’s Close makes intelligent use of limited space to create a modern flexible office environment without excessive spending. The project represents a triumph of historic building techniques, showcasing the hard work and determination of the developers to achieve their vision. 5 Advocate’s Close is an innovative piece of contemporary architecture and well deserving of the Highly Commended accolade.”

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