Auckland Castle Trust

Sector: Charitable Trust
Location: Bishop Auckland, County Durham
Scope of Works: Design, Fit Out and Furniture Installation

The Client:

Auckland Castle Trust is a charitable organisation with an ambitious vision – “to transform Auckland Castle into a faith, art and heritage destination of international significance, reinvigorating the town of Bishop Auckland and the wider area through social and economic regeneration.”

The Brief:
With support from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and other key partners, the charity has embarked on a £70m revitalisation scheme, which will see this vision become a reality. At the heart of this scheme is the restoration of the 900-year-old Auckland Castle, once a private Palace for the Prince Bishops of Durham. This meant that the charity’s employees, who had been based in the Castle since 2012, needed a new place to work. Vinonium House was chosen for the new interim HQ as it was large enough to house all of the staff on one site whilst remaining in the heart of Bishop Auckland. The building also benefits from 360-degree views, high up over Bishop Auckland town centre, the Castle and the surrounding areas, giving a great overview of the revitalisation scheme as it progresses.

The Challenges:
Auckland Castle Trust is renting part of the building, including floors five, six and seven, which had all been earmarked for office accommodation. Ben Johnson strategically planned teams across these floors, each with its own specific brief.
Ben Johnson had to prioritise the fifth floor and work in high numbers at speed to complete the work to avoid holding up the wider restoration programme. Completion of the remaining floors would follow closely behind as programmed. Although the Trust rents the majority of the building, other tenants occupy the remaining floors, therefore careful planning and measures were put in place by the delivery team at Ben Johnson to eliminate disruption, noise and mess to others users within the building.

The Solution:
The fifth floor was designed in a fairly open plan arrangement with only a few enclosed offices and a meeting room. Further informal meeting spaces were created from booth-style soft seating, positioned between the teams to provide an easy local space to collaborate. To keep within budget the Trust decided to utilise some of its existing furniture on this floor, mixed with new. The finishes for the new furniture were carefully selected to complement the existing furniture and create a sense of uniformity. The sixth floor saw the biggest refurbishment, with a need to offer a welcoming environment for all visitors to reception, as well as accommodating important meetings.
Ben Johnson completely renovated this space by building new partition offices, meeting rooms and a boardroom, all with a high-level acoustic rating, new flooring and decoration throughout, as well as new kitchen and food prep areas and all new furniture. Visitors are now greeted in the newly formed reception area, defined by the swish modular reception desk with a back-lit feature panel by Sedus, and tub chairs upholstered in fabric of a sophisticated monochrome colour palette. The boardroom is furnished with a table made of high quality walnut veneer and black glass, along with a matching tall media credenza unit by Hands. The seventh floor has a mixture of open plan workspace and quiet rooms, along with a large library area. The library is adjacent to the quiet rooms so staff can select resources and take them to study.

We are delighted with the work that Ben Johnson Interiors has carried out for us. Vinovium House will allow all of the charity’s growing number of staff to be based in one central location and, more importantly, to remain in the heart of Bishop Auckland while restoration of Auckland Castle and building on its associated developments is underway.

Corrinne Greener: HR Manager at Auckland Castle Trust
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