Cellular Operations

Richard Hywel Evans, Swindon, 1999


Subscribe now to instantly view this image

Subscribe to the Architects’ Journal (AJ) for instant access to the AJ Buildings Library, an online database of nearly 2,000 exemplar buildings in photographs, plans, elevations and details.

Already a subscriber? Sign in


John N Maclean     Download Original

  • The glass wraps around to form a nose which functions as the main entrance     
  • The curvilinear glass south elevation snakes along the waterfront    
  • External view of the back of the building    
  • An entertaining environment for the young workforce to enjoy    
  • The cast concrete stair has the quality of a prehistoric skeleton    
  • The blue mosaic-clad WC’s are referred to as the ‘swimming pool’    
  • Each of the wc blocks is detailed differently,  to encourage staff to use different parts of the building. One block is entirely detailed in timber    
  • One WC block is entirely stainless steel    
  • Site plan    
  • Ground floor plan    
  • First floor plan    
  • Second floor plan    
  • Section A-A    
  • Section through three-storey office area    
  • Staircase detail    
  • Staircase detail    

An experimental design of curved glazing and playfully complex interior structures for a Swindon call centre

The building is conceived of as an extrusion of two elements. There is a linear horizontal block, which is clad in black insulating sheet material holding huge sheets of solar-shading capillary glass. These are punctuated with a series of horizontal and vertical windows-within-windows that allow the users a glimpse out.

By contrast the south elevation is a complex curvilinear glass armature which snakes along the waterfront elevation, wrapping around to form a nose which functions as the main entrance.

Once inside, the nose is constructed from a complex series of structural tubes that take planar glazing fixings. The language of the curve is carried through to the reception desk that is a collage of stainless steel ‘scales’. On turning the corner the desk becomes a coffee bar with a neon sign above.

Within the body of the space the regular layout of work stations sits perpendicular to the black-box facade, while the clear-glazed enclosure creates a meandering break-out zone.

The second floor of the building steps back along the south elevation in section revealing a double-curved concrete soffit which has a clear-glazed handrail embedded into the nib.


  • Begun: Dec 1998
  • Completed: Dec 1999
  • Floor area: 4,313m2
  • Sector: Office
  • Total cost: £6.1M
  • Tender date: Jun 1998
  • Procurement: Design and Build
  • Address: Century Road, Swindon, SN5 5DR , United Kingdom

Professional Team


AJBL Sponsor


VMZINC has almost two centuries experience of manufacturing a wide range of rolled zinc products for use in construction

Find out more