The Hub, Kent Science Park Sittingbourne, UK
Kent Science Park is a unique business cluster on 22 hectares within the Thames Gateway growth area.
It houses companies operating in biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, ICT, renewable energy technologies and contract research.
The number of expanding and new businesses at Kent Science Park (KSP) has grown in recent years, placing increased demand on existing cafeteria and meeting facilities. Our brief was to design a central focal point building with amenities for current and future tennants.
The Hub is the heart of daily life at KSP, creating a community.
Located at the heart of KSP, the chosen plot is sandwiched between the main site road (with its district heating pipes running in the pavement) and the edge of a landscaped Japanese garden and adjacent pond. These tight physical constraints had a strong influence in the initial concept design and proved to be challenging at Stages 4 and 5, especially structurally and operationally.
The plot was originally occupied by a defunct single-storey R&D building, which was asbestos stripped and demolished in early 2018. Further instances of asbestos contamination were discovered in the ground, which resulted in a challenging programme before the build itself commenced.
The building is simple in form and designed to create a vibrant working environment.
This simplicity allows park users and visitors to easily connect and collaborate, while encapsulating the spirit of technology and science in its modern appearance. It comprises a steel frame on an in-situ concrete slab and piled foundation.
The external envelope is wrapped in a built-up standing seam cladding system, with feature fins accentuating the northern elevation. The eastern elevation is extruded to an open canopy, which provides shelter as well as shading for solar gain. Large expanses of curtain walling and windows provide plentiful natural light and connect The Hub to its surroundings. This connection is further enhanced by the paved courtyard area beyond the canopy and the stepped interface with the Japanese garden.
The Hub houses high-quality catering with state-of-the-art conference facilities. The double-height café utilises the ground floor for everyday use and the upper mezzanine level available when required. The upper floor acts as breakout space for the meeting rooms and for dining at larger meetings and conferences. The flexible meeting space can be configured to provide 1 to 3 meeting rooms with full AV connectivity, or up to 170 people in theatre-style seating.
The Hub is the heart of daily life at KSP and is creating a community. Julie Fenwick, Office Manager at GW Pharmaceuticals, remarked: “The HUB is a wonderful addition to the KSP facility…great food, great service, conference rooms and some great meeting spaces – and all of this under one roof!”
The Hub has been designed to meet the needs of current and future Kent Science Park residents.
It was clear at the briefing stage that the new building must meet the growing range of lifestyle requirements, as well as the CSR objectives of the individual businesses that base themselves on the park.
With around a third of our lives at work, it’s was absolutely appropriate that the provision for wellness should also be incorporated into the design. This was considered at the earliest design stages, acting as the nucleus around which the rest of the space was delivered.
Large expanses of curtain walling and windows provide plentiful natural light. The opportunity for workers to have a break from their working environment and use the break-out space and facilities is positive in terms of health and wellbeing.
The new Hub is situated at the heart of KSP on the edge of the central landscaped area known as the Japanese gardens. This provides a focal point, and a new paved outside seating and function area link directly with gardens.
The amenities now combine high-quality catering with state-of-the-art conference facilities – all within a very flexible space that can be configured to tenants’ requirements.
There is a wide choice of accommodation suitable for start-up and micro businesses as well as established, growing organisations. It offers a long-term sustainable location that’s attractive to innovative, forward-thinking, high-tech businesses in the Kent area.