In 2012, Microsoft Research made a decision to relocate to the city centre and to be the first occupier within Brookgate’s CB1 development. The company relocated from its previous premises on the nearby West Campus on the city fringe in 2010.
Microsoft wanted a building that could achieve one thing; the ability for its researchers to be creative and collaborative whilst still being able to focus on their projects.
It wasn’t about packing them into a building, it was about supporting the way that they work to ensure that they had the ability to be as innovative as possible.
Creative and collaborative work spaces
As many of their researchers are also acting professors and lecturers, the building needed to be able to host high quality broadcast lectures and be highly flexible for tech events throughout the year. A state-of-the art lecture theatre was created, steeply banked to replicate the feel of university facilities. Collaboration hubs around the building and a variety of enclosed and semi-enclosed meeting spaces supplemented the lab spaces.
Steps were taken, including use of lighting and colour, to ensure that wherever the researchers went into the building they had access to spaces to suit their task, whether thinking, collaborating or simply relaxing. The heart of the building - the atrium - including the café on the ground floor was strategically positioned so that researchers were naturally guided to the space during their working day. Other spaces were specifically designed so that people would interact and meet, for example, cyclists who park in the basement would have to come to the ground floor first before travelling up to their workspace.