A Q&A with Centre Square architects Seymour Architecture

We recently sat down with the architects working on Centre Square, Seymour Architecture, to discuss their vision behind our Middlesbrough development, giving you an insight into the planning involved in creating a Grade A office space, the innovative thinking needed and the challenges that must be overcome.


How did you get involved in the project?

The project started in the same way as many commercial projects, with a call from Ashall Property to say that there was significant unfulfilled demand for a grade A offices in Middlesbrough centre and asking if we were interested in helping them respond to it. As we have a twenty-year relationship with Ashall Property, we were very excited to be offered the opportunity to deliver another Grade A building to them.

Given our relationship, we were happy to invest the time in helping the developer make the project a reality. Even in the earliest of meetings with Ashall Property and Middlesbrough Council, it was clear that there was determination and the will to make the project happen.


What was your vision when designing the building?

In short, to create an aspirational, desirable place where businesses want to be and to create sustainable workspaces that inspire.

To create high quality public realm that will attract businesses, providing a peerless setting for the benefit of not just the business community but also the wider community of Middlesbrough.

External places that become:

Outdoor break-out areas for the offices, providing places for:  meeting, relaxation, rejuvenation, contemplation and even work because with a mobile phone and a laptop, we are enabled to work anywhere.

Grade A offices designed in accordance with the highest current industry standards, to achieve a BREEAM rating of Excellent and an EPC ‘A’ rating.

To provide buildings that are adaptable, economic and sustainable, but above all are great places to work and where people want to work.  Space that is better than any available space in the region and is capable of attracting companies and employees that are not currently based in Middlesbrough.

Floorplates that are flexible in providing a number of options for sub division ranging from single tenants to multiple occupancies and also providing flexibility in the fit-out options for incoming tenants. Maximising the flexibility of the buildings will increase their lifespans.

Highly adaptable and flexible internal environments that:

  • allow for spaceless growth in businesses
  • are capable of responding to occupier needs
  • create environments that champion employee wellbeing
  • accelerate productivity and employee retention


Did you come across any challenges along the way?

It was fantastic to be given the opportunity of working on a high profile site in the heart of Middlesbrough that is surrounded by the most important Civic, Judicial and Cultural buildings in the town. Our design needed to respond to the context and create a new Civic centrepiece, partly enclosing the new civic square and also create a new business district that would help to bring new employment and wealth to Middlesbrough.

The form of the buildings needed to enclose the public realm and create a series of inter-linked external spaces. Where possible the building forms also create discreet locations for car parking, whilst separating them from the civic spaces. The open space of Centre Square was vast, so another objective of the building layout and form was to provide a new closure to the long east-wards vista from Albert Road. 

 The residential area to the east of the site required careful consideration in order to protect rights of privacy and daylight. The building form was a product of the client brief for a total of 30,000sqft NIA that could be sub-divided into 2 equal demises. The actual layout of the building is such that it is capable of being sub-divided into up to six separate tenancies.


Were you required to adapt or change the project at any point?

There’s a challenge in creating a design that all the stakeholders are happy with, so whilst the plan, form and massing of the building has not changed since the initial concept was produced, the elevations have been through a number of iterations. The initial proposal was tested by a presentation to the potential end user, which was the catalyst for a re-think of the elevational design. Following further briefing and consultation with Ashall Property, Middlesbrough Council and the marketing agents, a number of elevation option treatments were produced, and a consensus was reached on the final design. 


Were any aspects of the design or specification remarkably different to what you have experienced before?

We have external facing materials on the project that we have not used before. The precise, engineered, white La Paloma Artico brick which is manufactured in Spain will create a very striking feature frame at ground level. The brickwork frame extends to first floor level with glazed curtain walling to the two upper levels - this treatment wraps uninterrupted around the entire building. The glazed areas have integral vertical fins that extend half a metre beyond the glass to provide solar shading.

The building’s defining element will be the fins, finished in an iridescent paint, the same finish is also applied to the cladding panels at parapet level. The building will therefore appear to change colour from grey to blue to green, as lighting conditions change and as it is viewed dynamically. 


What was the most rewarding aspect of the project?

Creating a building that perfectly answers our client’s brief.  An extremely flexible building that will appeal to the market by creating a new workplace that businesses relocating to Middlesbrough centre want to have.


How would you describe the project?

A wonderful opportunity for us to continue our relationship with Ashall Property, to showcase our work in a town where we had not previously worked, and to help create top-quality architecture and public realm for the benefit of the developer, council and community.


Get in touch

If you’re feeling inspired by the regeneration of Centre Square, and Middlesbrough’s business potential, or want to discover more about relocating your business to the North East, get in touch with our agents today.

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