The Motorola Building Swindon opened in November 1998 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Striking and futuristic, the High-tech building did duty as a James Bond location for The World Is Not Enough.

The Motorola Building Swindon doubling as a Turkish oil refinery in The World is Not Enough
The Motorola Building Swindon doubling as a Turkish oil refinery in The World is Not Enough. Photo courtesy of Calyx Media

Completed in a mere fifty-two weeks, Motorola designed the building as a manufacturing facility for the company’s GSM radio transmission equipment. It cost an estimated £40million to build.

This Swindon Web article tells us that the aluminium and glass clad complex covers an area equal to three football pitches end-to-end. And further that it accommodated 1300 staff (before redundancies in 2001) in 28,000 sq.m of manufacturing space. And 4500 sq.m of offices. At 5.5m diameter the tube is big enough to drive a car through.

The Motorola Building Swindon 1998 - helicopter on platform for filming of the world is not enough
©CALYX Pictures ARCHIVE Filming 007 James Bond The World is not Enough at the Motorola plant on St, Andrews Ridge. With Pierce Brosnan, Sophie Marceau, Judy Dench, Colin Salmon, Michael Apted.

Award winning

Designed by Shepherd Robson, the building won the best industrial building in the 1999 structural steel design awards. It also got highly commended in the British Construction Industry Awards.

The Swindon Web article goes on to tell us that the manufacture of mobile phones at the site ended in 2001. 2009 saw Motorola use the factory to install the first UK test-bed for the new 4G mobile broadband system.

The tube

About the tube on the Motorola building

Key building facts

Building size, 23,100 sq.m
Length, 300m
Architect, Shepherd Robson
Year of construction, 1998

Its later life

2009 saw the building purchased by the French-owned drugs company Vygon to use as a distribution centre. And that rendered the central tube structure redundant. Thus it was partially demolished.

Vygon spent £15m to buy the forty-six acre Groundwell site and transform it into its UK headquarters.

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