Heelis: The National Trust HQ 2008

Heelis National Trust HQ Swindon
Heelis National Trust HQ Swindon

I’ve had to rather neglect Swindon in 50 more buildings to make room for other projects. But a visit to STEAM and therefore a walk right past Heelis, prompted me to do a post about the building. And another one in this series.

Built in 2005 by Fielden Clegg Bradley studios, Heelis takes its name from Beatrix Potter’s married name. Ms Potter of course being the inspiration behind the National Trust.
In November 2007 Heelis found itself the recipient of the sustainable building of the year award.

The Building website says:

“Heelis, the National Trust central office in Swindon is an exemplar in two vital areas.

It demonstrates that it’s possible for buildings with normal commercial constraints to be green and at little extra cost.

1. The commitment from both the project team to make vigorous measurement of the building and to work at close quarters with the occupiers of the building to ensure it meets its targets.

2. Other features include timber sourced from National Trust forests and un-dyed carpets sourced from Herdwick sheep, which helped a small producer stay in business.

A right royal objection

At risk of having you all throw up your hands in horror, I’ve got a lot of time for a lot of what Prince Charles has to say. But not so much when it comes to architecture. I’m of the opinion that much of what he spouts on that topic, comprises twaddle. Ergo I’m not that surprised to read that he apparently threatened to quit his National Trust patronage unless the designs for Heelis saw some alterations.

It seems that there were allegations in The Guardian, claiming that the prince took against the initial designs for the £14.5m building. Apparently, Clarence House told the newspaper that the argument arose over the building’s sustainable principles. A spokesperson said: ‘The prince won’t offer his personal patronage of a building that doesn’t feature the principles of sustainability he personally espouses.’

All of which seems a little … odd… given that the completed building gained a BREEAM Excellent rating.

BREEAM or Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method is used to masterplan projects, infrastructure and buildings. So you think they’d know eh?

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