Northwood Headquarters achieves Financial Close


Scott Brownrigg are pleased to announce they are the architects and planners to the Carillion consortium for the regeneration of the 43-acre MoD site at Northwood, which is owned by the Chief of Joint Operations (CJO), is home to his own Permanent Joint Headquarters (including the JFHQ), the Commander Naval Forces North (one of NATO’s three major Commanders) and Headquarters of Commander in Chief Fleet.

Financial Close on this £1.15 billion PFI contract has been achieved twelve months post Carillion being selected as Preferred Bidder.  Planning consent was secured earlier this year following a pre-submission public exhibition of the proposals and close consultation with the various authorities and interest groups,.

The winning design solutions, which the design team evolved during the bidding process, are based on a clear and robust Masterplan for the site. The Masterplan provides a framework enabling the diverse activities to be rationalised and bring about operational efficiencies when compared to the present mixture of functions and facilities, within a revitalised mature landscape setting.

Nigel Badham, Carillion’s Project Director, comments:
“Scott Brownrigg have provided an intelligent Masterplan solution, together with a contemporary architecture which is entirely appropriate to our objective of delivering an affordable, high quality living and working environment”

  • The constraints for regeneration of the Northwood site were significant and presented the design team with enormous challenges:

  • The steeply sloping site with over seventy existing buildings, in excess of a thousand trees, and a labyrinth of underground services collectively present substantial physical constrain

  • The practical requirement to maintain 24/7 operational capability for circa 2,000 personnel with living accommodation for some 800 and in excess of 1,000 parking spaces, over the five-year construction and transition period is of paramount importance and a major challenge to achieve.

  • Minimising the impact of development on the surrounding residential neighbourhood, by retaining a substantial number of existing trees, controlling views from and into the site and improving access to the site has been fundamental in the evolution of the proposals.

  • Enabling construction to proceed efficiently with minimum disruption throughout the contract period is clearly essential.

The completed Masterplan will provide three distinct zones, with existing and new operational facilities forming the core of the site. New and existing living and mess accommodation will form an arc around two adjacent boundaries with a second arc around the other two boundaries containing all support accommodation and the majority of parking. By exploiting the site topography, a double decked and surface car park for over a thousand cars has been set into the hillside, minimising visibility from outside of the site. This in turn enables a park and walk policy to be adopted and provide a largely pedestrian landscape, between the operational, recreational and living accommodation.   

The Masterplan had to be robust not only to satisfy this raft of constraints but also to meet the ever changing needs of a dynamic organisation.

The need to accommodate controlled change has been especially relevant for the new circa 12,000 m2 HQ Building. The building concept consists of a series of deep floor plates, linked through top lit atria providing natural daylight and provides optimum flexibility for varying working structures, with critical day to day relationships.  Along with all other new buildings the HQ has been designed to achieve an ‘Excellent’ BREEAM rating and maximises the use of prefabrication off-site.

In addition to the operational facilities, the site regeneration will replace old and temporary living accommodation with new ensuite accommodation for over 700 personnel. All new accommodation will be provided by the adoption of off-site modular construction techniques to minimise on-site labour and construction time.  In order to reduce the amount of new build a different approach has been adopted for two of the three existing HQ buildings which have outlived their functional appropriateness for operational use and were recognised by Scott Brownrigg as having the potential for re-use as living accommodation. Other existing living accommodation will be upgraded to provide ensuite facilities throughout, in line with the MoD modernisation programme throughout the Defence Estate.

The existing community facilities on the site are currently accommodated in a variety of old and temporary buildings in diverse locations, which are unsuitable for modernisation.  A communal hub consisting of a cluster of distinctive white rendered buildings located in the heart of the site will provide accommodation for sports and fitness, healthcare, nursery education and other recreational and social facilities.

The landscape strategy will maintain and enhance the unique woodland setting around the site, reinforcing the core with pine heathland and meadows. The existing yew trees and other significant mature ornamental tree specimens will be retained to provide a distinctive mature setting for the facilities

Notes to the Editor

MONOCO (a Mowlem consortium) was awarded preferred bidder status in July 2005.  Mowlem were taken over by Carillion in 2006.  Carillion Defence will provide new works and refurbishment of existing buildings and will provide the services element of the contract.

Scott Brownrigg acted as Town Planners on the scheme and planning permission for the scheme was granted by the Three Rivers District Council in February 2006.

Scott Brownrigg unites planners, masterplanners, urban designers, architects and interior designers in one practice, combining creativity and intelligence with a wealth of professional expertise and market insight.  Scott Brownrigg draws on experience in a wide range of sectors including residential, business space, hotels and destination resorts, retail, leisure, mixed use, education, public sector, industrial and transport