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The Lumen building lights up the Newcastle Helix

We utilised the latest building and construction innovation at The Lumen.

Natural light, ambient temperature and the elements that make life work are all core to the success of The Lumen, our latest construction project in the Newcastle Helix development.

We are proud to have played a role in delivering this eye-catching addition to Newcastle’s skyline, which offers 106,000 sq. ft of grade A office space office accommodation and unparalleled opportunities to collaborate with researchers and other brands within the Helix ecosystem, in the heart of Newcastle upon Tyne.

With showering and changing facilities, extensive bicycle storage, floor to ceiling windows for maximum natural light and Leazes park on the doorstep for easy access to green spaces, the Lumen has been designed to support a healthy work/ life balance.

The building offers sophistication, accessibility, cutting-edge amenities all with the end user in mind. Designed with versatile floorplates and co-working spaces for the modern worker.

Project summary

    • Client: Legal and General Investment Management
    • Sector: Commercial
    • Value: £25m
    • Size: 9 storey building provides 13025m2 / 140195 ft2 with the internal accommodation to be completed to a CAT A standard.
    • Location: North East
    • Service: Construction
    • Completion date: May 2020

A beautiful building with bare bones

The vision for The Lumen was for a minimalist building with maximum light. Design tolerances were different for the core, structural steelwork, steel and façade. This created tremendous challenges during the design stage. The client’s desire for exposed details meant that junctions between the core, steel and façade had to be perfect to avoid unsightly interfaces absolutely minute, otherwise it wouldn’t look right. The project team rigorously engaged the client to ensure every detail was to their satisfaction, and there were no unnecessary delays to the programme.

The building features a curtain wall façade, polished concrete a floor to reception area and raised access floors to the office areas, barriers with underfloor heating, integrated ‘halo’ lighting on the external façade and exposed services for all ceilings.


Construction in confined spaces

Fredrick Douglass CentreAs the Newcastle Helix develops, it is becoming an increasingly busy destination, and creating more challenges for our neighbouring project team. Working alongside multiple construction sites, it was imperative we worked creatively to manage the site traffic, deliveries, trade-contractors and additional logistics.

We worked collaboratively with contractors and shared access roads with Kier (at the Bioshphere), Engie (at the energy centre), another Sir Robert McAlpine team (at Frederick Douglass Centre) and Tolent (at Hadrian Tower). We held monthly meetings with all parties to coordinate when groundworks would take place, deliveries were due and all other major works.

To further minimise the impact on site, we used many of the same trade contractors and suppliers already working in and around the site.


Problem solving in real time

The brewery basement was still in place on site, preventing construction of the energy centre infrastructure planned to feed the building. Despite some elements sitting outside our contracted scope of works, we collaborated with contractor Engie to design systems that would work together that ended up benefitting the project by improving overall interfacing.

Due to unknown ground conditions, we had to re-plan the sequencing of the piling to fit in with the programme constraints. The newly ordered sequencing allowed the programme to remain on schedule and the works to be completed on time.

We were required to problem solve with the Building Maintenance Unit. The initial supplier was unable to complete the project, and the design of the unit did not allow for replacement glass or other maintenance requirements to the façade. We engaged a different supplier and reviewed all the structural calculations and redesigned the support system for the Building Maintenance Unit in order to find a workable solution that met the client needs and enables the future use of the building.


Leaning in with social value

The Lumen team aimed to go above and beyond the targets set by the Newcastle City Council, with almost 60% (59.86%) of the workforce being local. Work experience, apprentices, industrial placements all featured prominently on site, including support of the PlanBEE initiative, hosting four month long work placements for students, one of which gained fulltime employment with Sir Robert McAlpine on completion.

The project was a strong supporter of the Reece Mentoring Program, supporting 19 students over two years. The Reece Scholarship Mentoring Programme is hosted by St Cuthbert’s High School for Boys and feature a number of local schools participating in the programme.

As host, St Cuthbert’s High School work closely with Newcastle University, The Reece Foundation and companies like Sir Robert McAlpine to produce the city-wide Reece Scholarship, which enables the most able Year 12 students to have a taste of engineering as a career with both academic and real-life experiences.

The Lumen hosted 32 additional students for site visits and engaged with 650 students with careers information and advice. The team also participated in Open Doors Week in 2019, offering site visits of students aged 11-18, giving opportunities for those involved to experience a live construction site and educate and inspire those interested in a construction career.


The Lumen comes to life

The Lumen has already attracted several high profile tenants.

It became the first NHS Integrated Covid Hub in the UK, accommodates Homes England, the Government’s housing accelerator and is home to Savills, a global real estate services provider.

It showcases a permanent print collection, curated by Northern Print.

For Christmas 2020, The Lumen switched on its “halo” of lights. The lights, which run around the roofline of the building can be seen for miles across the city.

Newcastle Helix

Built to put Newcastle on the map as the home of British science and technology, the Newcastle Helix is a carefully curated collection of new buildings that harness the latest in building and construction innovation. The Lumen, within the Newcastle Helix was designed as a 106,000 square feet office building that supported an innovation incubator as well as providing space for established businesses, start-ups and collaboration.

The landmark 24-acre hybrid city quarter in the centre of Newcastle has adopted the highest standards for sustainability, prioritising people over cars and managing heating, energy and water across the whole site. The Lumen supports these admirable objectives through clever design.

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