Emma Honey
Posted on 31 Mar 2014

Commercial Project of the Year with a Value Under £5m

The Michelmores and Western Morning News Property Awards are the region's premier property competition, showcasing the very best in West Country property projects, buildings and firms.

The Commercial Project of the Year with a Value Under £5million category  is sponsored by Torbay Development Agency and Eagle House, Exeter was announced as the winner at a Gala Dinner at St Mellion International Resort on May 8th 2014.

More about what the judges had to say...

Shortlist 2014

Eagle House, Exeter Science Park

Nominated by Eagle One Limited/LHC Architecture + Urbanism

Project Value: £2m

Eagle House is the first of seven buildings expected to form the Phase 1 ‘cluster’ of the much anticipated Exeter Science Park.  It is the new headquarters of developers Eagle One/Blue Cedar Homes and was commissioned to fulfil the group’s corporate expansion plans with a speculative element being ‘pre-let’ prior to the building’s completion.

The building is “business-like and contemporary” but its impact is “bigger than its scale”.  For the success of the wider Science Park scheme, there was a need for a ‘flagship’ development that supports this emerging ‘science-based’ community, encouraging new start-ups, nurturing local skills and encouraging further relocation of organisation such as the Met Office.

Eagle House is a ‘gateway’ building representing the start of the Science Park and acting as a catalyst for the scheme as it gains momentum.

The building aims to provide, at a viable cost, high-quality, sustainable and flexible commercial offices. The prominent site selection and contemporary design sets the standards to which the rest of the Science Park will aspire and by meeting the requirements of BREEAM ‘Excellent’ and best practice from the British Council of Offices, it sets the tone of innovation and confidence that underlines the Park’s aims.

It provides a low-demand and carbon-saving environment without impacting on the building-users’ ability to control and tailor their own environments and it exploits the sloping site and views across the Clyst Valley and Exe Estuary dealing sensitively with the impact on the landscape.

Haven Banks Outdoor Education Centre, Exeter

Nominated by Midas Construction Ltd/NPS South West Ltd

Project Value: £4.5m

Opened by HRH The Earl of Wessex in July 2013, the Haven Banks Outdoor Education Centre on Exeter’s quayside provides a world-class facility for over 25,000 young people and adults in the region to use every year for outdoor adventure activities.

This outstanding facility was funded by Devon County Council using proceeds from the sale of Exeter Airport but is being run by Exeter College as part of a pioneering partnership arrangement.

The centre is set to increase take-up of outdoor adventure activities in the region creating a contemporary hub for young people and adults from Devon and across the South West, as well as spearheading a major rejuvenation of Exeter’s historic canal side quarter.

The feel of traditional warehouse architecture has been preserved amidst a potpourri of interesting shapes and forms dominated by the 23-metre high steel climbing tower complete with spiral staircase.  There is also an indoor rock form caving system, 7-metre high rock faced climbing walls, a 45-metre long pontoon fronting the canal, changing facilities for 120 students, 5 training rooms and a wet meeting room.

Granite paved open space and an upgraded canal side footpath provide public access and there is cleverly designed facilities access including access to boats.  In addition to caving, climbing and powerfan "free fall" descent, other activities include sailing, kayaking and canoeing, windsurfing, raft building, bell-boating, orienteering, archery and team building.

The judges felt that this was an “optimistic building” which “motivates people to be more adventurous”. The result is a highly innovative approach to creating an education and training facility, designed to encompass the diverse needs of a wide range of users from students to professionals.

Headland Hotel, Newquay

Nominated by Lilly Lewarne Practice Ltd

Project Value: £4m

Originally part of a wider development concept, which included a subterranean dining room and conference centre, new external swimming pool and tennis courts, the Headland Hotel’s new spa got underway in September 2011 after the necessary planning and Listed Building consents were obtained.

Two construction phases were programmed around the hotel’s peak Easter, summer and Christmas seasons – practical completion being achieved in December 2013 when Cornwall’s only ‘5 Bubble’ spa officially opened and was  brought into full use in January 2014.

The considerable investment in providing a luxury spa experience which includes a stunning reception area, consultation area, spa lounge, treatment rooms, heated pool, saunas, aromatherapy showers and a fully equipped state-of-the-art gymnasium, hides the huge challenge of creating a basement level facility, reinstating the landscaped embankment and utilising the volume beneath to create useable spa floor space and plant room.

The extension was then finished with a turfed roof melding with the natural landscape setting. As most of the accommodation is beneath the embankment with little opportunity for views out, the subterranean theme was emphasised in the ‘rockpool’ pebble wall finishes and contrast of naturally top-lit light wells to spa areas and more subdued lighting of the new indoor pool.

The judges recognized the considerable obstacles overcome by the architects and contractors on this project and acknowledged the wider contribution developments of this scale make to the tourism led economy as well as the business itself.  It is already attracting new markets and has created sustainable jobs.

PZ360, Penzance

Nominated by Mounts Bay Trading Ltd (MTBL)

Project Value:  £250,000

The PZ360 project started in July 2012 with the aim of refurbishing the ‘ugly’ and unloved Penlowarth building, a 1960’s reinforced concrete office block in the centre of Penzance which housed an Inland Revenue office until 2006.

The building was acquired by MBTL in 2012 with the aim of securing full building occupancy through active management and investment in the building fabric, its facilities and its tenants.

The six-storey building includes 17,000 sq ft of self-contained offices from 315 to 6,600 sq ft and is the largest private sector commercial building in Penzance. As the tallest building in the town, it commands a unique 360⁰ panoramic view over Mount’s Bay, which is now symbolized in the building’s new name.

In order to arrest declining occupancy and to attract new tenants, it was essential to improve the image of the building starting with a new contemporary front entrance, more vibrant interior with better business facilities and new branding.

PZ360 is now one of the best located and specified business space destinations in West Cornwall providing modern, flexible, technology enabled town centre accommodation at reasonable rents with a particular focus on providing space to micro-businesses and SMEs.

With the help of Community Interest Company, Workhubs Network, MBTL was successful in attracting a Regional Growth Fund grant to support the conversion of the fourth floor at PZ360 into The Workbox, a facility providing homeworkers and micro businesses a place to work from, network in, hold meetings and events and give presentations.

PZ360 is now home to several businesses, employing some 200 people on site and making a considerable contribution to the local economy in terms of job creation and consumer spend.  Tenants benefit from Superfast Broadband and the thriving, buzzing community of like-minded people the new workplace environment at PZ360 has created.