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Ellas Kithcen - modular building

Ella’s Kitchen

‘Portabarn’ Provided for Ella’s Kitchen

When Paul Lindley set up organic baby food company Ella’s Kitchen in 2006, he believed passionately that his daughter Ella and son Paddy should have the opportunity to “eat better food and also to discover that healthy food can be fun, tasty and cool.” Since then the company has grown hugely, to the extent that they were running out of room for staff at their Head Office. It was at this point they approached Wernick Refurbished Buildings for a solution.

Based in a leased building on Greys Green Farm in Henley-on-Thames, there was little room for expansion on the site. “We know that eventually we’ll have to look for larger premises” Facilities Manager Jo Wilby told us. “In the meantime we needed a cost effective way of providing space for our staff.” The design of the building would also be vitally important; and would need to not only blend in with the existing surrounding buildings (which are barns), but also fit with Ella’s Kitchen’s relaxed work culture. An amalgamation of these two specifications can be found on Jo’s business card, which reads ‘Makes the Barns Run Smoothly’.

A modular building was identified as the ideal solution, but the only feasible location for it was occupied by a dried out pond. After approaching several major modular building companies, it was Wernick Refurbished Buildings’ response that inspired the most confidence in Jo. “We knew this was going to be a difficult project,” she commented, “and Wernick’s honesty and professionalism in communicating the challenges of the site reassured us they would be able to deliver.”

The first challenge was prepping the site. Wernick recommended that a Ground Investigation Report was carried out to ensure the suitability of the ground. Thankfully, only minor alterations to the proposed foundations would be needed.Getting the six units that would make up the building onto those foundations, however, was another challenge. With no line of sight between the foundations, crane and delivery area, a lot of careful planning was needed for a successful installation. As the units would need to be lifted over normally occupied buildings, the install took place on a Saturday, and great care was taken to avoid damage to hedgerows and other vegetation that restricted the movement of lorries.

The finished building, affectionately dubbed ‘The Portabarn’, is a massive hit with staff. Jo told us, “It’s used constantly; people love just coming here to chill out.” Most of the building is used as a large breakout room, complete with benches and a projector for holding company meetings. However, Ella’s Kitchen were determined to get the most out of the new building and have found room for an additional formal meeting room, staff kitchen, and development kitchen for new recipes.

Externally, the sides of the building were factory clad with timber, which will naturally darken to match the surrounding buildings. The building also features full height windows both internally and externally and roof lights above the development kitchen to provide extra light.

After only 5 weeks on site, the building was finished and opened by Ella Lindley herself (now aged 16). Equipped with their new facilities, you can be sure to expect more great things from Ella’s Kitchen.

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