Northern Rail was formed in 2004 and is operated in joint venture by Serco and Abellio. During that time the organisation was undergoing a series of relocations, refurbishments and upgrades to its existing facilities. In a business steeped in history and age-old tradition, the rusty stigma that has become attached to it came as little surprise. Having taken over the franchise for the next 25 years, the company’s aim was to improve not only the customers’ experience of rail travel but also their perception of an ageing industry. This became the driving force behind the office design, creating an interior that was future proof, largely unbranded but unmistakeably Northern.
Part of the challenge throughout the course of the project rollout was dealing with a variety of different building types, ranging from listed buildings to 1960s office developments.
One of Claremont’s major challenge in Leeds was how to divide the small space of 4,300 sq ft between reception, training and the open plan office, whilst maintaining a sense of openness and connection. The solution was to build a 200mm thick feature wall that opens up into a small informal training area, which then leads into the main office space.
A key feature was also to subtly underpin the office design with hints of Northern’s ethos, people, places and possibilities. This was done in a number of ways. Frameless glazed partitioning with bespoke graphics depicting each major city across the North of England make up the majority of meeting rooms and cellular spaces. Uniquely stylised canvases illustrate Northern’s customers and staff and add bright splashes of colour to the contemporary office interior.
Claremont’s challenge in Northern’s York office was to create a collaborative and friendly working environment for approximately 250 workers who were already housed in one of the company’s existing facilities. Following feasibility studies carried out by Claremont at this and two other properties, Northern’s team decided to relocate.
The decision was based on financial factors and the need to inhabit headquarters that better reflected the contemporary, yet familiar, image of the organisation. A 1960s office block was selected as the new office space and 23,500 sq ft of space was taken over four floors. Claremont worked in conjunction with the existing landlord to amend and minimise costs before delivering its unique tenant office fit-out solution.
Claremont has also completed work for Northern at Newcastle – a £150k project in a multi-occupancy Grade II listed building and at ‘Square One’ in Manchester city centre – a £450k project.