Hamilton Architects were appointed by the Department of Finance and Personnel (DFP) Properties Division to design a new signature headquarters building at Ballykelly for the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA). The initial accommodation project circa 5175m2 comprises 470 workstations, a ministerial suite and includes infrastructure for expansion.
We followed current office accommodation best practice guidance including The Government Office Specification and Workplace NI Design Informative in preparing layouts for review. This included spatial arrangements for circulation, allowances for services and infrastructure for expansion. The state-of-the-art design, with its dynamic interiors is planned with communal, outward looking spaces which serve as both circulation and breakout areas, with the added value of being available for local community use. This flexible arrangement however neither disrupts nor compromises the efficient open plan offices. Specifications were developed from the earliest stage to ensure cost verification and value for money throughout the design stages. Design quality for the project takes account of functionality, appropriate build quality and impact on the environment in-line with the briefing requirements.
The designs were reviewed at each stage and benchmarked with current government best practice offices, including Lanyon Plaza. The design quality was again subject to a MAG review at Planning stage as a further critical analysis of achieving design excellence. Employer’s requirements to support the procurement of a contracting team were fully documented within RIBA Technical Design Works Information performance specifications including M&E and structural specifications by other consultants to ensure accurate and robust tenders were obtained. Hamilton Architects involvement will continue throughout the procurement and on-site delivery stages of the project.
The existing headquarters is based in Dundonald House, Stormont. The assessment of the quality and functionality of the existing offices highlighted that the accommodation is outdated, compromised cellular in format with limited flexibility and constraints on adaptability including services.