Bruntwood’s Field Office

It’s the first day of the build period. We have exactly 15 days to turn a 150 square metre plot of rough grass into a space that will instill Bruntwood’s values of greener ways of working, and (weather permitting) promote the benefits of outdoor working. Around us is a air of excitement and anticipation as all the exhibitors and RHS staff contemplate the challenge ahead, transforming an open piece of parkland into the RHS Flower Show Tatton Park 2016.

The design for the Field Office began life as a series of small doodles emerging from Bruntwood’s aspiration to show their creative approach to space. The initial design stage was a challenge. We went through a number of options before fixing on a design that took inspiration from the natural environment; imagining ourselves in a field and using what we could find to create a contemporary and sustainable office space. Our intention was to design a feature garden that promotes the health benefits of working outdoors, with low native hedges to define the rooms, semi-mature native trees providing structure and shade, recycled cattle feeders filled with edible fruit and vegetables for lunch and biofuel crops in the Plant Room for implied energy production.

As work gets underway the clouds begin to gather and heavy rain attempts to slow progress, but with unwavering perseverance from our contractors, the hedgerows and trees begin to define the spaces and by the end of the first week we have a structure and form that is clearly very different from the other embryonic gardens.

As The Field Office takes shape, other exhibitors inquisitively stop to examine the strong geometric lines and query the layout, which already looks alien amongst the other more typical show garden layouts – but that’s what we wanted to achieve!

Seeing surrounding gardens filled with colourful borders and water features by the second week, I start to question how our design will be received by the public. The Field Office is purposefully natural: native tree and hedge species; a chunky oak table and solid cube blocks crafted from local windblown trees that dominate the boardroom space; minimal ornamental planting; and very few flowers.

It’s now the 20th of July, the sun is shining and Chairman of Bruntwood Mike Oglesby and CEO Chris Oglesby have officially opened the show. People quickly filter through and peruse the Field Office’s outdoor rooms and are inquisitive about the ethos behind the design. Thanks to the lovely Mandy from Bruntwood a programme of events begin to take place in the Field Office adding further intrigue and animation to challenge conformity. Popping up sporadically in the reception, boardroom and kitchen, the Hallé Youth Orchestra gather, monologues by members of the Royal Exchange Theatre, the very talented Delia Stevens, percussionist extraordinaire, and Simone Ridyard encouraging everyone to participate in some sketching.

Having been apprehensive about the design, as it was so unlike other more stereotypical RHS show gardens and exhibits, I am now overwhelmed by the positive comments and number of people that have just come in to sit in the garden and enjoy the tranquil atmosphere; all created by a few up-cycled objects and some native planting.

Our thanks go to Living Landscapes, Chris Frankland, Specimen Trees and Fox’s Bench Ironwork.

Written by Maisie Irlam, Landscape Architect