Santander’s landmark new workplace starts on site

Work has started to build Santander UK’s landmark new workplace in Milton Keynes. Procured by Osborne+Co for Santander and designed by LOM, Unity Place will be a centre for digital banking innovation and will incorporate a range of community facilities.

Unity Place will bring together Santander’s 6,000 employees who are currently spread across four sites in Milton Keynes. Designed to achieve a WELL ‘Gold’ certification, this vibrant new workplace will nurture collaboration and support staff health and wellbeing. It has also been conceived to help attract the next generation of talent who will drive the banking sector in the future.

Visualisation of Unity Place in Milton Keynes

The scheme will be the focal point for Santander’s UK business and the local community. It includes coworking space for small business and start-ups. The public will be encouraged to use its facilities including an ‘urban market’, retail outlets, health facilities including; gym, yoga and consultation spaces, community hall and auditorium. There is also a rooftop running track and café/restaurant with terrace.

Nathan Bostock, Chief Executive of Santander UK, said: “We’re very excited to be starting work on Unity Place, a major investment in Milton Keynes, reflecting our long-term commitment to the local area. Milton Keynes is already one the UK’s leading technology centres and with a number of innovative education and training providers on our doorstep, we hope it will be a real magnet for technology talent. Once complete, the campus will be a state-of-the-art workplace which reflects our culture and our vision for the future. It will be a world-class home for Santander which both our colleagues and the local community can take pride in.”

The project is being delivered by developer Osborne+Co, architects LOM architecture and design, engineers WSP, planning consultants Deloitte and project and cost managers Turner & Townsend.

Santander Unity Place urban market

Urban market

LOM’s design for the eight-storey building comprises four blocks connected by three atria and includes two basement levels providing plant space and parking. It is designed to be easily adaptable to ensure that it is sustainable in the long term. For example, the coworking area can expand or contract to accommodate changes in Santander’s space demands and the building can be subdivided for separate tenancies.

The day-to-day operation of the building will be supported by a dedicated ‘campus app’, allowing users to book and manage rooms and other spaces and browse campus events.

LOM is currently developing a ‘coding’ theme for the interiors that is inspired by the nearby Bletchley Park – home to the famous World War Two Codebreakers, including the computing pioneer Alan Turing.

Richard Hutchinson, Director at LOM architecture and design, said: “We have worked closely with Santander to understand its long-term aspirations for a scheme that will become one of the principal components in the bank’s UK estate. Some 5,000 workstations will be accommodated across 37,000sqm of open-plan workspace.

“Given the significant number of employees to be supported under one roof, we’ve designed a variety of work settings to support both desk-based and more agile working. Spaces are planned as ‘neighbourhoods’ of around 100-125 people who share common facilities to give them a sense of belonging and opportunities to collaborate.

“Placemaking and ensuring that the building is welcoming to the community is a key part of the brief. We have responded to this by designing active glazed frontages that look out to newly landscaped public space surrounding the building and by creating a lively internal street and ‘urban market’ on the ground floor.”

Santander Unity Place interior

The development was officially launched by Nathan Bostock and Iain Stewart MP for Milton Keynes South at a ground-breaking ceremony on 28 February 2020. The event was also attend by the Santander UK project team, LOM director Richard Hutchinson, Co-founder of Osborne+Co Jim Osborne, Mayor of Milton Keynes Cllr Sam Crooks and MK Council’s Executive Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Community Partnerships Cllr Moriah Priestley.

Jim Osborne said: “Today has been the celebration of the start of construction of Unity Place. Applying best in class design principles and the very latest in workplace thinking at its core, Unity Place has been devised to enhance and facilitate innovation and creativity in the work environment with a particular focus on sustainability and staff wellbeing.”

Planning approval for the 81,650sqm development was granted by Milton Keynes Council in July 2019. The building is anticipated to open in Autumn 2022.

Ground floor working lounge

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