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Background.

For almost half a century, CGI has been recognised as one of the largest and most illustrious I.T. and business consulting services firms in the world.  In Wales alone, the organisation employs 1,300 industry and technology experts across multiple sites – making them one of the largest employers in the country.

Powell’s longstanding relationship with CGI stretches back some years now, and throughout that time, we have collaborated on a broad range of projects, varying from simple refurbishments to full fit-outs – much like our latest project at CGI in Waterton, Bridgend.  Here, Powell were commissioned to strip out and refurbish two-zones, to bring it in-line with the group’s global brand, and to make the space better suited to modern working.

Step 1: Design and Consultation.

As with all projects, Powell conducted multiple site-visits during initial planning stages, monitoring the use of space, with a view to identifying perhaps unforeseen or unconsidered pearls and pitfalls of the existing, and proposed space.  Given the significant works required, CGI opted for Powell’s full design package, which gave the organisation a completely tailored solution, constant access to their project manager and various designers, as well as revisions of plans – guaranteeing the perfect solution for their needs.  Powell’s full design package also allowed CGI to develop a flawless vision of what success would look like, as they were presented with a series of complex 3D visuals, realistic renders and flythroughs, as well as real-world examples of physical furniture and swatches. These, key tools in Powell’s arsenal are designed to produce life-like renders (using the most up-to-date, sophisticated software) to assist the client in visualising what the space will look like.

Powell Interior Designer, Chelsea Williams:

“Thorough planning is always critical to the success of a project, as well as ensuring that a client is ‘taken along for the journey’, and that there’s a common understanding between the client and ourselves.  When dealing with projects of this scale, it can be difficult for some stakeholders to visualise proposals.  That’s why we work so hard to develop complex visuals and renders – to facilitate an understanding of what success looks like.

It was important to the client that the zones were inspiring and practical, and nurtured a positive working environment for their staff.  The client was very keen to develop an open plan office, facilitating collaboration for the workforce, but due to the nature of the business – private, enclosed meeting rooms were necessary, on top of areas such as staff breakout zones, to encourage excellent employee-wellbeing.  Combining such a broad range of spaces can be tricky, which is why developing renders and visuals is critical – allowing the customer to follow a journey through the space, and reason with the architectural logic of the proposals.”

Step 2: construction phase, what we did, and the challenges faced – in and out.

Arriving at CGI at the start of 2022, the Powell team began stripping out the facility.  Powell is renowned for its green credentials.  Working with Powell is working for a greener future – so as expected, the first step was to re-purpose, and then recycle any antiquated, superfluous or broken furniture and other materials within the building.  Items identified as being reusable were securely removed from the site and stored, and those which were repairable were noted and redirected to the relevant supplier in our supply-chain.  Once all items were identified and actioned, the de-construction was given the green-light.  In just weeks following the beginning of this 1,400m2 job, all items had been routed to their relevant location, and the structure’s metal frame was exposed, ready to be given a new lease of life.

The exposed services which run through Zones 3 & 4 reflect the aesthetic from Zones 1 & 2, areas which Powell had previously refurbished for CGI.  The removal of the somewhat old-fashioned suspended, white ceiling tiles made the facility much more open and modern feeling, while allowing natural light to flow through the space.   New heating and cooling systems were installed in-line with building regulations, which also allowed the space to mimic the M&E setup from zones 1 & 2.  All aspects of the development were designed, specified and installed with the environment in mind – and calculations for carbon footprints and relevant off-setting measures, taken into consideration.  Powell’s M&E feasibility report took into account the energy consumption of different HVAC systems, to ensure the best suited products were specified for the proposed application.  Going forward, integration with the onsite BMS will also allow for careful monitoring and control of the building services.  With a view to reducing waste as much as possible, Powell tied the client’s existing PV array into the design, and ensured the new HAVC installed complemented the use of this existing asset.

 

The open-plan areas of the space were so large, that it became of critical importance to take noise attenuation into consideration – this was made all the more important, given the introduction of large-volumes of glazing which were brought into the space, as well as the exposed services.  To combat this, Powell installed large quantities of acoustic panels on all full height walls and against the ceilings. Again, this was all specified with our carbon-footprint in mind, as Chelsea Williams explains:

“Our partners and suppliers are vetted for their green credentials. The acoustic panels and flooring throughout the zones are manufactured in a facility that is powered by renewable energy – and just like Powell, the manufacturer is ISO 14001 certified, which gives reassurance that they are a responsible organisation, constantly working to improve their environmental policies.  While all products specified for all Powell projects have been screened for their environmental properties and impact, it does not limit their aesthetic benefits, or their ability to fit in line with the company’s branding, in this case, CGI’s grey, red and purple – which are peppered throughout the design, particularly notable in the soft furnishings and desk screens.”

 

The neutral carpet with a red, CGI feature strip running through, presents a sub-conscious trail that guides employees to various workstations. While the striped feature carpet tile in the meeting rooms has been specified with a view to encouraging creativity and inspiration.

The space has metres and metres of glazed partitions, making up meeting rooms and segregated offices, which also include a splash of CGI branding in their manifestation. This glass, which is extremely durable and hard-wearing, will allow natural light to flow into the newly refurbished space, producing a lively, positive environment to work in.  Whether new and ethically sourced, or repaired and repurposed, all soft furnishings at CGI Bridgend have been upholstered in carefully selected, wear resilient fabric.  The playful colours make the space feel light and creative, but the styles and tactile nature of the furniture will maintain the professional atmosphere you’d expect from an organisation like CGI.  Design elements throughout the two-zones share branding similarities with other facilities that CGI staff are familiar with, but it was important to the client that the facility has its own sense of individuality.  The similarities and uniformity reinforce brand identity, which makes people more comfortable and more productive, while certain one-off pieces, such as the bespoke storage and media units, are unique, and have been installed with project teams at the forefront.

Step 3: The transformation and the client satisfaction.

Powell’s relationship with CGI continues to go from strength to strength, with another project being completed to a high standard, in budget and to the projected timescale.  CGI staff were able to return to working in zones 3 & 4, on-time and as planned, thanks to another seamless Powell installation.

 

Guy Newton – Head of UKA CRE Projects:

“CGI has been working with Powell for a number of years now, and we will continue to work with them for refurbishments and the like, because they are completely dependable.  The creative arm of the company is second-to-none, and we’re always certain that they will understand our brief, while not being afraid to suggest excellent ideas and concepts for our consideration – and much to our advantage.  Every time we have worked with Powell, the work has been carried out to an exceptionally high standard, and the communication has been exceptional.  Once again, we’re very pleased with the finish, and the service we have been provided with by this first-rate, industry leading organisation – thank you Powell.”

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