Lawray recently completed a major refurbishment and remodelling scheme for the Welsh Ambulance Service Trust headquarters - Ty Elwy - based in St Asaph.
The Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust (WAST) serves a population of 2.9 million people and attends a staggering 250,000 emergency calls a year. It has long been recognised that dedicated staff carrying out vital work behind the scenes in North Wales needed a new, modern base. We were appointed back in 2016 to consider sites for relocation as the Trust’s existing facility was inefficient and beyond financially viable repair.
How would the new premises meet the demands of a modern Health Trust?
We evaluated several options against pre-determined key criteria to reach an agreed short-list. Close connections to the A55 North Wales Expressway were essential and became a key element in the decision-making process. Detailed assessments of each site were then carried out, challenging spatial requirements internally and staff parking requirements externally.
Working with WAST’s in-house estates team, we identified the former Welsh Government offices on St Asaph Business Park as being most suitable. The Headquarters needed to combine open plan office space with flexible meeting rooms, plus a Training & Development Suite. We developed a detailed brief, including a Schedule of Accommodation and Adjacencies Diagram, to create a scheme for extensive refurbishment and remodelling.
With over a hundred staff moving from cellular offices, many feared that an open plan office would be akin to working in a typical call-centre environment.
To tackle this, we created lines of separation using naturally finished timber dividers, bringing warmth and a sense of comfort to the office whilst retaining the open plan layout. Several break-out meeting rooms allow smaller groups to get together in privacy. At the heart of the building the two-storey atrium supplies the space with natural light; creating a bright and informal break-out area. Feature planting, picnic bench seating and astro-turf flooring enhances the informality of the space.
Research has determined that on average we spend more than 90% of our time in buildings.
Considering the nature of the Trust’s work as a healthcare provider, it is fitting that the new Headquarters has been designed with the wellness of its occupants at the forefront. The refurbishment embraces the principles of the WELL Building Standard, a system which addresses features of the built environment that impact upon health and wellbeing.
WAST was keen to implement the standard, including critical aspects such as the plentiful provision of drinking water and good air quality.
The remodelling also provides a wellness activity space, offering the opportunity for low impact exercise such as yoga or Pilates, as well as a Health & Wellness Library. The team also have the opportunity to work away from desks to vary their working environment, or take a short nap to help mitigate stress and improve job satisfaction.
The completed facility achieves a BREEAM ‘Very Good’ rating and initial feedback on the contemporary office environment has been extremely positive from staff based at the newly named Ty Elwy, concluding another successful scheme delivery for WAST.