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10 innovative offices and commercial buildings in the Thames Valley

By Steve Charnock
15 June 2022
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For the first time, we can say with some confidence that the Covid-19 pandemic is behind us. People adapted incredibly well during the various lockdowns; the agility that British business demonstrated in the past few years was outstanding.

Working from home measures were a particular success, with business continuity pretty much maintained throughout. Some lessons around the specifics of 'WFH' have been learned and many of us have since incorporated the concept of home working into our working lives. It's here to stay.

Yet the office is not dead. The future for many appears to be 'hybrid working' - part of the week spent working at home, part of the week in the office. That's what 85% of office workers want, according to a recent survey.

That's just as well, only the Thames Valley has hundreds of millions of pounds' worth of brand new, cutting edge and innovative office space. It'd be a giant shame - not to mention an enormous waste of money - not to make use of it.

Here are our 10 favourite offices in the region. Some are brand new builds, others make great use of older buildings, all are forward-thinking working environments that are future proofed and a pleasure to work inside...

1. Three - Green Park, Reading

First look inside the new Three UK offices in Reading's Green Park

Mobile provider Three's new UK HQ has moved from Basingstoke to Green Park in Reading. The new building, all 117,000 square feet of it, is a spectacular site. And one that's being specifically pushed as a 'hybrid hub' for its employees.

The new Morgan Lovell-designed office is split into five distinct 'neighbourhoods' (Visitor; Discovery; Living; Playing and Meeting), with each one consisting of its own zones. Workplaces don't get much more modern than this. Need proof? Well, there's a yoga studio, gender neutral facilities and even a designated 'chill room'.

2. Tempo Building - Maidenhead

Okay, so this place isn't finished yet (in fact, it only just began its revamp in March 2022). But if, when finished (due to be May 2023), it looks like the projected images? Maidenhead's 'Tempo Building' is going to be some place to work.

Maidenhead locals and visitors to the town will know the spot. Formerly known as Star House, this imposing site was the locale for Three before their move to Reading. It's the first thing you see when you arrive at Maidenhead train station.

The £40m overhaul will see the newly-renamed Tempo Building drastically reduce its carbon footprint, increase its meeting and public spaces and even create interior pavilions. The standout feature is due to be the 5,000 sq. ft. roof terrace, though. Which will be perfect for events or informal working (so long as it's not raining, of course).

3. No. 3 Forbury Place - Reading

A sister building to No. 1 & No. 2 Forbury Place, No. 3 is just as impressive looking, but offers just that little bit more inside. As a combo of three buildings, Forbury Place creates almost its own mini business district in Reading town centre, given its proximity to the town's main train station.

From the hotel reception-style entrance to the various informal meeting spaces and light-filled and airy central atrium, this award-winning office offers Grade A office space, impressive views and, in The Forbury Kitchen, one of the best work cafés in the area.

4. Bicester Eco Business Centre - Bicester

As its name suggests, this unusual-looking building is all about sustainability. Completed in 2018 and occupied since 2019, the Bicester Eco Business Centre is Britain's first commercial building to achieve the coveted 'Passivhaus Plus' eco building standard.

It provides workspace for a plethora of small businesses and a generous co-working space in what is one of the most sustainable - and zero carbon - buildings in the entire country. One of the coolest parts about it? It has an automated airflow system which opens and closes windows and vents as per the outside and inside temperatures. Making it (almost) seem as if the building breathes.

5. Mountbatten House - Basingstoke

Designated as one of the most important 'listed modern buildings' in the country, Mountbatten House - originally known as Gateway House - is famous in Basingstoke. The building itself is large and impressive, but it's what's on top of the building that really stands out.

The roof garden has almost achieved iconic status in the town, affectionately known by locals as ‘The Hanging Gardens of Basingstoke’. It's recently been bought and plans to update the building in a 'heritage-led redevelopment scheme' should see Mountbatten House back to its best - and even better - very soon.

6. Arena Reading - Winnersh

This is 50,000 sq. ft. of the most modern, comfortable and innovative premium office space, all created for just £8m. Arena Reading (although it's just outside Reading in Winnersh) offers flexible workspace for up to 5,000 people, all of whom can count themselves lucky to be able to work from such plush and uniquely-designed surroundings.

It's the little touches that count here, as those working inside - or visiting - Arena will attest. A team of award-winning interior designers ensured that this working environment is elevated on every floor and in every communal space.

7. The Blade - Reading

The tallest building in Reading, The Blade is already a fully-realised part of the town's skyscape. Its distinctive shape instantly recognisable to anyone from or living in Reading.

Completed in 2009, this 86 metre-tall office building has over 110,000 sq. ft. of office space spread across 15 floors. Inside it's a bright and modern working environment which, from its upper floors, offers the very best view of the town.

8. Future Works - Slough

Offering more than 100,000 sq. ft. of premium office space over eight floors, Future Works is as forward thinking as its moniker hints at. Next door to Slough train station, it's handily placed and part of a mammoth £230m investment in the Berkshire town.

Award-winning architects designed the building, with every inch of space within cleverly utilised. It's as sustainable and environmentally-friendly as you'd expect from such a modern build too. Its key feature is its stunning west-facing roof terraces, both of which offer views of Windsor Castle.

9. Newbury Building Society - Newbury

While fairly unassuming from the front, what we love about the Newbury Building Society's HQ is how Morgan Lovell designed the inside. Their work reimagining the office and making it work so much better for those that work there was precisely why they won Thames Valley Property Awards' Office Design Specialist of the Year shortly after completing the project.

Not only does it look great, it's incredibly practical, with every corner thought about and useful. The central tenets seems to be agility, flexibility and collaboration. Casual working and meeting spaces are pivotal. It looks like a seriously good place to work.

10. The Curious Lounge, Reading

So there's the old way of working, with every day in the same seat in the same room at the same office. Then there's the potential for dog barking/baby crying/cramped spare room working at home. And, of course, a hybrid of the two.

One of the real emerging stars of modern working is the more relaxed 'workspace', the casual business lounge. Offering serious flexibility, comfortable surroundings and an informal yet professional environment, places like The Curious Lounge are the perfect option for so many people looking for an alternative option.

A stone's throw (if you've got a good throw) from Reading train station, The Curious Lounge isn't just a co-working space, though. There's more to it than that.

They’re a workspace with a difference: a relaxed business lounge with high spec meeting rooms, an on-site indie coffee shop, over 70 air purifying plants and pleasingly flexible membership options. Users can book rooms by the hour, work for the day or, if you really like it there, you can buy a monthly hours package that suits your work pattern.