Elephant & Castle


The area of London known as the Elephant and Castle is changing. Southwark council is leading a three billion pound regeneration programme that aims to create a new exciting destination for London over the next 15 years. Lendlease is responsible for delivering two thirds of the overall regeneration value. Together these will deliver nearly 3,000 new homes as well as new retail and leisure spaces.

To deliver these substantial projects, Lendlease knew they would need to create an environment that facilitated collaboration, and not just between Lendlease and their supply chain, but internally as well. For the Elephant and Castle regeneration they adopted an integrated model, with their construction and development arms working side by side from day one. It quickly became apparent that the best, not to mention to most efficient and cost effective, way to create this environment was to have everyone working in the same building. For this site accommodation, Lendlease approached Wernick.

“We wanted the building to reflect the quality of our permanent offices,” Emma McCreery Breen, Assistant Project Manager for Lendlease told us. “So when we went to tender, we put a big focus on the quality of the product. Where most companies were offering optional extras to get to the level we wanted, Wernick’s submission achieved it from the start.” The result of this is the four storey Faraday building at the heart of Lendlease’s site.

From the outside it may look like any other site accommodation block, albeit a large one, with welfare facilities for 1,200 operatives and office space for 400.It is the interior of the building where this quality becomes apparent. Everything from the glass partitioning to the large pot plants in reception gives the appearance of any number of plush office buildings. It’s only the steady stream of site operatives in hi viz and hard hats that suggest that we are, in fact, on a construction site.

There’s more to the ground floor than the polished look, however. Lendlease has put an incredible amount of thought into how to create the ideal working environment. They have made a conscious decision, for example, to not display any Health and Safety messaging within the 400 seat canteen area, to allow staff to feel like they’re having a real break from the dangers of a construction site. Even the colours used throughout the building have been chosen to create a calmer, more collaborative work environment.

This level of detail is repeated in the floors above, but to get there we need to take the stairs. The staircase that connects all four floors of the building features a timeline of the project, allowing you to see the progress as you ascend. This is something that staff here will grow very familiar with for one simple reason; as Emma points out “The one lift in the building is for disabled use only.” Even with all these little initiatives, like encouraging employees to use the stairs, Lendlease hasn’t lost site of the fundamentals of running a construction site, like the safety and security of staff. With the exception of ground level, each floor requires a card key to enter.

The first and second floors are for subcontractor and Lendlease offices respectively, and are virtually identical. “We wanted the environment to be consistent for everyone on site, regardless of whether they are a subcontractor or not,” commented Emma. These floors are dominated by large open plan offices, but also include small meeting rooms and breakaway kitchen areas to further enable an alternative working culture. “People have been really impressed with the large open spaces, and where columns have been used they’ve been integrated into the design so that they add to the aesthetic of the rooms, rather than detract from it,” notes Emma.

The third floor is used for larger meetings and entertaining clients, and opens on to a large roof terrace. If they can tear themselves away from the views of the London skyline, potential buyers will be able to get a preview of how the parks on the development might feel thanks to the roof garden made using the substrate that will be used throughout the site.

They might also notice an array of photovoltaic panels generating electricity for the building, which compliment other environmentally friendly features of the building, which include waterless urinals and toilets that use grey water for flushing.

The building mirrors the overall development in other ways, like the fact is was handed over in stages. “While some Lendlease staff were operating out of rented offices in nearby buildings, the staff on site needed the welfare facilities urgently,” commented Kerry Jones, Key Account Manager for Wernick. “We were able to accommodate this by using a phased handover, where the ground and first floors were handed over to the client while the final fit out was being completed in the upper floors.”

The 158 modular units of the 5000m2 building took just four months to design and manufacture, and the phased handover was completed within six months. In keeping with the development’s excellent safety record, the installation was completed by the Wernick team without any incidents at all. The install went so smoothly those involved earned a Team Safety Award from Lendlease at their quarterly award ceremonies.

While the fate of the Faraday building remains undecided for now, Lendlease has plenty of time to consider how best to use its next-level site accommodation.

People have been really impressed with the large open spaces, and where columns have been used they’ve been integrated into the design so that they add to the aesthetic of the rooms, rather than detract from it,

Emma McCreery Breen
Assistant Project Manager for Lendlease