Hollaway Studio Designs Bromptons New Global Headquarters and Factory
Hollaway Studio has designed a pioneering new global headquarters and factory in Ashford, Kent for Brompton, the UK’s largest bicycle manufacturer.
Aiming to open in 2027, the state of the art building will be situated within 100 acres of unused wetlands, which will be transformed by Ashford Borough Council into a rewilded public nature reserve and community cycle path with sustainability at its heart.
The building is circled by a publicly accessible cycleway which weaves in and out of the building, providing both expansive views of the site and multisensory experiences of the factory processes along the route. The journey ends at the roof, where a Brompton Museum, recreational areas and a shared canteen for both workers and visitors alike can be found.
A true 21st Century Bourneville, the factory will merge the public and private domains of industry through permitting the public to view not only how Brompton bikes are manufactured but to reveal and educate how industry works – a rarity in such settings and something that will position it firmly within the community.
Challenging the traditional perception of manufacturing, Hollaway has designed the factory to work in harmony with and become part of its natural surroundings, sustainability will be at the heart of the carbon-neutral facility which will draw heat from the ground, utilise natural light and air flows and harness the power of the site’s wind and sun exposure to contribute to energy demands. The footprint of the building and the impact on the surrounding wetland has been kept to a minimum by housing the events spaces, museum, canteen, and terrace upon the roof.
Just like a Brompton bike, the factory will be built to last, with construction methods examined, embodied carbon explored and materials responsibly sourced to ensure the site can enable future adaptation and be resilient to the changing climate. Through its design, Hollaway highlights the possibility of making industry clean and giving back to nature. Positioned 2.2m above the wetlands , the building appears to float as it coexists with the wetlands below, allowing water levels to rise and fall throughout the year. This is aided by a reinforced floorplate, supported by foundation piles which also serve to draw heat from the ground.
Will Butler-Adams OBE, CEO at Brompton said:
“As we face climate change, combined with poor mental and physical health in our cities, where most of the world population live, we need to adapt. There has been a global realisation post-pandemic that we need to change how we live in our cities, to design them around the people that live in them, not the automobile.
‘’Brompton has a large part to play in supporting that transition, but we need to have more space to innovate and create the products of the future. London was the inspiration for the Brompton and our success is in large part is due to our diverse and skilled staff who continue to nurture and develop our company. By choosing Ashford we can retain this strong connection to London and the UK, whilst being on the doorstep of Europe.
‘’We have a long journey ahead with the planning and development of the new site, but we’re thankful for the support of Ashford Borough Council, Hollaway Studios and Quinn Estates towards achieving our combined ambition to build this revolutionary and sustainable bicycle factory of the future.”
Quinn Estates will submit the project for planning permission in April 2022. The site will comprise four phases linked together via an internal street and the new factory will house a world class production facility.
Seeking to ensure employees and visitors access the site by cycling, walking, or using public transport, the travel plan for the site aims to see no new parking spaces created – while a wide integrated cycle route acts as the artery of the building and connects and explores a building that houses not only manufacturing but designers and creators, permitting employees and visitors alike to cycle straight into the facility. The objective of the travel plan, as with all of Brompton’s core values, is to be a leader in sustainable transport.
Created to realise Brompton’s future ambition of producing over 200,000 bikes per year, by 2027, Brompton expects to employ over 1,500 staff. Hollaway’s design acknowledges Brompton’s tremendous growth over the last 5 years. The new Ashford factory is perfectly located between the leading cycling cities of London and Paris, to enable their future ambitions and to continue to transform the way that people move in cities around the world.
Guy Hollaway, Principal Partner at Hollaway Studio says of the building:
“Our aim was to explore the question – what is the factory of the future? The challenge in designing for Brompton, this new sustainable factory located on a 100 acre wetland site, was to rethink both the concept of a factory while creating a symbiotic relationship between industry and nature.
‘’This ambitious project is truly ground-breaking in its approach and aspires to act as an exemplar to demonstrate how industry can embrace sustainable methods of transport and create an architecture that reflects the ethos of Brompton bicycles.”