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.
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.
The building was dug into the earth on the North, South and East elevations, which helps to provide a thermal buffer to the building.
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.
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.
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.
The design of the building reflects the ethos of McLaren, by creating a clean, healthy, and well controlled environment for its employees.