West Dunbartonshire Council’s new flagship office building at 16 Church Street, Dumbarton, provides modern workspace for 500 staff together with associated public services in the heart of the town centre. It replaces their previous building at Garshake Road on the town’s outskirts.
The project forms a tangible catalyst in the regeneration of Dumbarton town centre, while conserving the Gothic Revival facade of William Leiper’s grade A-listed former Dumbarton Academy and Burgh Hall, dating from 1865. The building had become derelict following a fire in 1976 and had been partly demolished in 2008 to remove unstable structures.
The brief was to facilitate a culture of flexible, collaborative working in a safe and healthy workplace, provided by an efficient and sustainable building.
The main entrance and public-fronting accommodation are located within the curtilage of the original Burgh Hall. Beyond this three storeys of office floorplates are organised around a central atrium. The social heart of the building, the ground floor of the atrium is used as informal workspace, for casual meetings, staff presentations and lunch consumption and introduces natural ventilation and daylight. In a conscious effort to support use of the local high street, no canteen was provided within the building.
The regular openings in the new extension derive from the provision of flexible, internal space-planning, balanced with the optimum openings for natural daylighting. These open up to the south east, providing views of local landmark Dumbarton Rock and forming a more civic backdrop to a new terraced, south-facing amenity space off Castle Street. This public garden creates a space for relaxing, meeting and mixing, for staff, visitors and the local community.
Internally the exposed, post-tensioned concrete frame provides thermal mass which helps regulate temperatures during the day. Together with the timber balustrading it creates a robust interior environment, that is offset by softer furnishings and acoustic treatments.