Stockley Park was Britain’s first architecturally driven business park. Masterplanned in the 1980s on a site strategically located close to Heathrow Airport and the M4 and M25 motorways, and within forty minutes’ drive of central London, it includes buildings by a number of leading British architects. When the practice first began working for industrial clients in the 1960s, most industrial estates in Britain represented the lowest common denominator in terms of design. The idea of improving the workplace, either by providing better amenities or by eliminating barriers between management and the workforce, was seen as unnecessary, if not subversive. Stockley Park demonstrated just how radically ideas had changed over the intervening twenty years.

Set at the southern end of the site, overlooking a lake, the building provides 12,000 square metres of office space, and was designed to house a single tenant but can be easily subdivided to suit multiple occupancy. Its formal design had to fit within certain aesthetic parameters set by Stockley Park’s management, which specified pitched roofs, white cladding and sunscreening. As a result, each of the building’s three stepped bays are fronted by V-shaped steel ‘butterfly’ frames, pinned at the ridges and supported on tapering columns. These frames support the roof over each three-storey bay and extend 3 metres over the long elevations to support louvred sunscreens. Between the bays two triple-height atria run the length of the building and carry the primary circulation.

Oriented to maximise views across the lake to the east, the main entrance to the building is located in the middle of the three halls on the northern facade, shaded by an overhanging canopy. Plant and services are stacked at the southern side of the building, where they block the heat of the sun. The long east and west elevations are made up of double-glazed units. To reduce solar gain the internal face of the units is stove-enamelled with white ‘frits’ – using technology transferred from the automotive industry - which vary in concentration from almost opaque at floor level to clear at seated eye level, thus maintaining visual contact with the gardens.

Sketches + Drawings

Quotes

Catherine Slessor

“At Stockley Park, what could have been a highly restrictive developer’s brief, in Foster’s hands becomes a starting point for elegant, innovative architecture.”

Martin Pawley

“’Stockley Park B3’ is masterpiece of modern architectural ingenuity. Nothing in it is wasted, nothing is ugly, yet everything is new. If you want to see an English building that can stand up to vorsprung durch technik, this is it.”

The Guardian, 21 August 1989

Facts + Figures

  • Appointment: 1987
  • Completion: 1989
  • Area: 11,312m²
  • Client: Stanhope Properties
  • Structural Engineer: Ove Arup and Partners
  • Quantity Surveyor: Davis Langdon and Everest
  • M+E Engineer: Ove Arup and Partners

Awards

  • British Council for Offices Award
  • British Construction Industry Award