Hethel Engineering Centre is a business dedicated to supporting the growth and success of high performance engineering and manufacturing. It offers ‘incubation space’ in which innovative start-up companies can work. The layout of the building encourages networking and sharing of knowledge and resources. The location is close to the Lotus factory, and the building was designed to reflect its close affiliation with engineering and motorsport. Its sleek, dynamic, and powerful image reflects the technological innovation it seeks to inspire.
Main Contractor: Mansell Construction
Landscape Architect: Wynne-Williams Assoc.
This project was led by Norfolk County Council, in partnership with South Norfolk Council, the East of England Development Agency, and the Training and Enterprise Council. As well as the business incubators, it offers training and conference facilities with on-site catering.
Approaching the main entrance, visitors cross an elegant curved bridge over a reflective pool. The building is mainly clad with metallic silver-grey composite wall panels. The office suite is defined by an cedar louvered wall system. In contrast, the panels windows and frames are finished with dark grey aluminium.
The building is orientated to provide natural daylight to the offices, and circulation spaces are top lit. Natural ventilation is used, with heating and cooling by air-to-heat pumps. The landscaping features sustainable drainage systems (SUDS) for surface water, extensive planting and microclimate conditioning, and external lighting designed to reduce light pollution. The Colin Chapman Conference Room features an unusual decorative design feature — Ayrton Senna’s 1987 Lotus Formula 1 car hanging from the wall.
The building was the winner of the ‘Innovative Design’ category at the SCALA Design Awards 2007. It also received a commendation in the New Building category of the South Norfolk Design Awards 2006.