The McLaren Group is a collection of high-tech companies involved in the design and development of Formula One cars, high-performance road cars, electronic systems and composite materials. Since McLaren began competing in Formula One in 1966, it has established a global reputation as one of the most successful teams in the history of the sport.
The Technology Centre provides a headquarters for the group and is designed to reflect the company's design and engineering expertise. It includes design studios, laboratories and testing and production facilities for Formula One and high-performance sports cars. Viewed on plan, the building is roughly semi-circular the circle being completed by a lake, which forms an integral part of the building's cooling system. Shaded by a cantilevered roof, the lakeside facade is a continuous curved glass wall, developed in part using McLaren's own technological expertise. Internally, the building's circulation is organised around double-height linear 'streets' which articulate 'fingers' of flexible floor space; these house production and parts storage areas on the lower levels, with top-lit design studios, offices and meeting rooms above. Directly behind the facade is a broad 'boulevard' which leads to areas for hospitality and to the staff restaurant, both of which look out across the lake. Other social facilities include a swimming pool and a fitness centre.
The new Production Centre, which lies immediately to the south-west of the Technology Centre, has allowed McLaren Automotive to step up its production capability and to introduce a range of new road cars, heralded by the 600bhp MP4-12C. Although it provides 32,000-square-metres of accommodation, over two floors, the building is dug discreetly into the landscape to minimise its physical presence. It is connected to the Technology Centre by a subterranean walkway, lined with interactive exhibition spaces. A Visitor Centre with educational facilities is located in a separate building at the entrance to the complex. This two-storey structure is also buried underground. It houses an exhibition space and lecture theatre and is reached via a subterranean link that features a permanent display of McLaren's racing and road cars.
Sketches + Drawings
Site + Climate
To minimise the visual impact of the project, the building height was limited, so that it did not exceed the height of the surrounding trees.
Form + Massing
The building was dug into the earth on the North, South and East elevations, which helps to provide a thermal buffer to the building.
The building sought to maximise daylight penetration through a continuous curved glazed façade to the west that overlooks a lake, while a 7m cantilevered overhang helps to reduce solar gain. Sky lights in the offices help to provide diffuse daylight.
Throughout the office space chilled beams are integrated within the diffuse daylight catchers. The 30,000m3 lake forms part of the cooling infrastructure, absorbing the waste energy generated by the building and its specialist systems.
Two gas powered trigeneration units provide heat, cooling and electricity for the building.
A subsequent development has seen the construction of a production facility next door to the technology centre. An infrastructure link between the two buildings helps to share the load, and extra capacity between both buildings.
Mobility + Connectivity
A green travel plan was developed to reduce automobile dependence, with the building connected to a cycle network and a bus stop. To enhance pedestrian access within the building, it is subdivided into individual fingers, each with its own specific functions. These are then connected by a large double height gallery space that is used for wayfinding. With the expansion of the site, a tunnel connects the production facility.
Materials + Waste
Recycled tyres are used for the rubber roof. High levels of repetition in design led to a decrease in the amount of materials used and construction waste generated. While the 450,000m3 of excavate created was redistributed onsite.
Rainwater is captured onsite and fed into the lake, the lake is carefully managed to allow for it to be used to help cool the building, whilst still providing an ecosystem for aquatic species. Greywater generated in the building is treated through a reedbed system before entering the nearby river.
Land + Ecology
The 50Ha site was previously developed with some contamination, which was remediated before100,000 trees and shrubs were planted to help improve biodiversity. In addition the lake and reedbeds have created new habitats within the site. The height of buildings is limited by the tree line, so they are not visually obtrusive.
Culture + Heritage
The design of the building reflects the ethos of McLaren, by creating a clean, healthy, and well controlled environment for its employees.
The use of natural daylight in the office areas and chilled beams have provided a natural, comfortable working environment in the heart of the building. Access to the surrounding areas further enhances employee wellbeing.
McLaren is the largest employer in Woking, providing over 1,000 jobs to the area. Further expansion of the site will see this figure grow.
Planning for Change
Due to the success of McLaren, the site has seen the expansion of facilities to include a production centre for their cars. In connecting these two building through an infrastructure link, each building is inherently more flexible for a change in use.
Performance in Use
Detailed BMS and sub-metering within the building have allowed McLaren to carefully monitor and control every aspect of the building to ensure that it performs as required.
“"We are very proud that the McLaren Technology Centre has won the Royal Fine Art Commission Building of the Year award today. There are many parallels between Foster + Partners and the McLaren Group and this led to a strong working relationship, a motivational environment for McLaren Group employees and a tremendous architectural statement."
Chairman and CEO of the McLaren Group, 2005
Facts + Figures
- Appointment: 1998
- Completion: 2004
- Area: 63,000m²
- Capacity: 1000
- Client: McLaren Group
- Structural Engineer: Arup
- Quantity Surveyor: Davis Langdon
- M+E Engineer: Schmidt Reuter Partner
- Landscape Architect: Terence O'Rourke
- Lighting Engineer: Claude R Engle Lighting
- Additional Consultants: Arlington Securities, WSP, Intec Management, Atelier Dreiseitl, AMEC
- Structural Steel Design Award
- British Association of Landscape Industries (BALI) National Landscape Grand Award
- BALI National Landscape Soft Landscaping over 1 Hectare Award and Grand Award
- RIBA Stirling Prize Channel 4 Peoples Choice Award
- RIBA Award
- The Royal Fine Art Commission Trust/BSkyB Building of the Year Award – Winner,
- RTPI Planning Awards – Award for Planning for Business,
- Festival Automobile International – Architecture Prize,
The main frame of the building contains over 5,000 tonnes of steelwork and is big enough to house nine Boeing 747 Jumbo jets. It provides 57,000 square metres of office space and will house the majority of the McLaren Group under one house.
Related Press Release:
Five RIBA Awards to Foster and Partners