Roche Head Office

Judges Special Award

Roche Head Office

Project Info

The new UK head office for Roche Products in Welwyn Garden City was designed to bring together 1,200 people under one roof. The design of the building and the choice of using wood as a material were to create a healthy, sustainable building, a working environment.

The solid American Oak cladding is a bespoke and patented unitised, cavity-ventilated system developed by Schneider – the first installed in the UK. The unitised panels are made from laminated Oak blocks continuously laminated so that no horizontal joints become visible in the 3.76m x 3m large panels. The Oak is exposed on the inside with a mullion size as slim as 70mm and left in its natural finish, treated only with a UV lacquer. Oak has been chosen for both aesthetic reasons and its durability and fire performance. Indeed the system has attested fire rating of 49min. With the timbers advantageous insulation property it achieves an overall U-Value of 0.81 Wm2/K. Other qualities are an acoustic rating of 44dB overall, 60dB vertical flanking and 53Db horizontal flanking as well as burglar resistance WK2. Also part of the cladding are Oak horizontally slotted acoustic Siesta panels (1.5 x 3.76) with the same natural finish to the inside as the cladding. These create a rhythm in the façade and add to the warm character of the space. All wood of the cladding is sourced from FSC sustainable sources.

The entire system has been prefabricated to profit from the advantages of off-site manufacturing: very high quality and accuracy, speedy installation and minimal damage to the environment. The use of wood plays an important role in the design of the central space of the ‘street’. It features a full height timber acoustic and fire-rated wall made of birch slats, which are profiled for better acoustic performance and clipped onto prefabricated acoustic panels. The area is also characterised by oiled Oak floors and Maple doors.

While the Oak for cladding and floor was chosen for both its durability and the aesthetics of its grain and warm colour, the Birch of the timber wall to the street and the Maple of the doors were selected for aesthetic reasons to help create a welcoming atmosphere. Both light up the space in comparison to the Oak, the Birch with a warmer tone chosen for the large area of the wood wall in the street, while the cooler and, due to its grain, ‘flatter’ Maple was used for the doors as part of glazed internal partitions.

LocationWelwyn Garden City


Structural EngineerBDP

SpeciesAmerican Oak, Finnish Birch, Canadian Maple

ClientRoche Products

JoineryEllmer Construction, Optima Partitioning Systems

Quantity surveyor & project managerPCM