Adequate space and enhanced security were key considerations. By undertaking a land swap with the local authority, a new site further back from the waterfront was acquired. This not only positioned the new HQ in a location that offered a significantly enhanced footprint and greater road network connectivity, but it also brought inward investment into a challenged neighbourhood.
The project came under the Scape framework for matching specific expertise to public sector projects and was put out to a competition between qualifying architectural practices, which was won by McBains Architects. The building was conceived to answer the needs of the new age of policing and to reflect its civic identity in a way that was commanding but not intimidating. Optimum sustainability was vital, and the building is rated BREEAM ‘Very Good’. Clearly, functional longevity was also a key concern and careful cost analyses were performed to ensure the best value for the investment of public money, in terms of reliability and performance. Appealing aesthetics were also a fundamental consideration.
“It was important,” says Mark Baseby, Project Director for McBains, “that the building reflected its relationship with Blackpool as a seaside location. And while the design needed to incorporate protection against security threats, there also needed to be a degree of ‘transparency’, especially in terms of the community-facing aspects of the building. The idea was to avoid a completely uniform appearance for the building but to create something characterful and unique.”
The building is made up of three main elements: an office block, a custody block (which is constructed of concrete and houses 42 cells) and an ancillary block that contains facilities such as CSI labs. The main office building is a glass box over a steel frame, designed to suggest waves upon the sand, and this is wrapped in a white shell of Corian Solid Surface. The main length of this element is north-facing, thus the cladding functions as a ventilated facade while also offering a visual openness. The western edge of the building has a cantilevered canopy for greater solar shading while the southern edge has fewer apertures and a more solid sense of cladding.
Corian was selected by McBains as a wise investment in lasting performance for the new HQ of the Lancashire Constabulary, which is designed to meet all the varied demands of modern policing.
“The facade works both as a ‘protective’ shield in terms of thermal efficiency and a pristine, easy-care finish, while also being reminiscent of shells found at the seaside,” says Baseby. “Thus the three-storey building is revealed from within this outer shell.” On investigation into appropriate cladding options, the McBains team participated in workshops with Corian industrial partner, Unique Fabrications, to explore whether the material would meet all the high demands of the specification. “We found that Corian was right up our street,” says Baseby.
“It was not the first material we looked at for the building as controlling costs was a key consideration,” he adds. “But our analysis showed that, ultimately, it would be a wise investment as it was not only within our budget but also offered long-term durability with minimal maintenance. We are really pleased with the results. It was a great experience to work with Corian and we would do so again. Everything we wanted from the product, we got.”
In total, 1600m² of Corian in Glacier White was fabricated into cladding panels using skilled techniques such as thermoforming and installed using a Keil mechanical fix system by Unique Fabrications.
Chief Supt, Matt Horn, comments: “The new West Division Police Headquarters is a massive improvement to the facilities we had at Bonny Street, which were very dated and simply no longer fit for purpose. These new facilities ensure we are well placed to deliver our service to communities, from an operating centre that delivers a modern working environment for our staff who work so hard to keep the area safe.”