Fresh thinking at Fram Well

January 2, 2019

Chris Dobson speaks to Neil McMillan from iMpeC, Will Mawson from MawsonKerr and Greg Davison from commercial Cushman & Wakefield, about an exciting new office building for Durham City

From the traditional building at No 1 Charlotte Square, Newcastle, a thriving architectural team has brought fresh air to the built environment with around 33 awards to its name, including being a Grand Design House of the Year finalist.

“It was this clear level of fresh thinking that drew us towards MawsonKerr, as well as a recommendation from another architect,” says Neil McMillan, director of iMpeC, the joint developer with Hanro of the Fram Well office building in Durham City, which will shortly be on site. It was their successes on exemplar housing that prompted us to approach MawsonKerr as we sought a new approach to the design of the office building.

“Mawson Kerr’s brief is to deliver a building that will work and match our ambition to create an office building that is informal, flexible, even agile, so becoming a place where staff really want to go. This is all about helping businesses attract and retain the best talent; a well-designed workplace environment can help to do that. We also wanted Fram Well to complement the much larger schemes at Milburngate and Aykley Heads by bringing forward something that will be different in its scale and offer.”

Led by Will Mawson, a Newcastle University qualified architect, MawsonKerr is presently a team of nine young and dynamic architects committed to bringing fresh thought into design. Will comments: “We are in the business of pushing boundaries, creating inspiring places for people to work in outstanding environments, which in turn support increased productivity as employees enjoy the day- to-day work experience.

“To achieve this requires something different and the Fram Well is certainly that with its contemporary touch of an agricultural/industrial theme to the building rather than the unimaginative office ‘block’. It’s going to bring an outstanding work environment to Durham City and the region.”

Work starts this spring on Fram Well, a 12,033 sq ft (1,118 sq m) three-storey building that sits in a rural oasis, minutes from Durham’s railway station and overlooking Durham’s cathedral and castle.

“What we have at Fram Well is an opportunity to bring forward offices that meet the needs of modern businesses and Durham City. This will be achieved by integrating contemporary design into the historic core,” Will adds.

Greg Davison, partner at Cushman & Wakefield, sole agent on the Fram Well project, says demand should come from indigenous Durham City businesses looking for better quality space and from businesses that would like to be located in, and associated with, a city of World Heritage status, but are currently unable to consider it due to a lack of Grade A space.

“Above all, Fram Well will bring the most modern workplace to the market for many years, which not only meets the requirements of modern businesses, but which raises the bar for architectural standards for contemporary office buildings that need to integrate into, and complement, long-established historic communities. We will be marketing cooler, higher quality, space in a spectacular setting which is not contaminated by a legacy of poorer post war architecture that affects competing centres. It will introduce an almost ‘cafe culture’ to create a cool and relaxed place to work, designed with the WELL building standard in mind, thus helping with staff retention and delivering higher levels of production.”


Hanro Group


Cushman & Wakefield

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