HQube in Bellfield Road High Wycombe wins RICS Design Award
Commercial units in High Wycombe which a former councilor described as looking ‘cheap and unpleasant’ before they were built have won an award after judges were impressed with their ‘funky’ design.
The HQube development, which includes 12 units for local businesses in shipping containers, was inspired by the DesBox scheme in East Richardson Street. So far seven of the units have been occupied and Bucks Council said discussions are underway with the occupants for the remaining units.
Advisers were less than impressed with the designs for the units, at Compair’s former site in Bellfield Road, when they were presented in June 2019, but apparently the judges of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors awards ( RICS) were of a different view.
HQube was chosen as the South East winner for Best Public Sector Project.
But in 2019 former High Wycombe District Councilor Alan Hill said they looked “cheap and mean”. He said at the time: ‘We need starter units for small businesses, but they look a bit cheap and unpleasant. I think they will look really out of place because there are some really nice buildings up there.
“They look like they’re very vulnerable to someone wanting to come over with a can opener and steal stuff.”
Despite the negativity at the time, judges at the RICS Awards said the units’ design was “innovative” and selected the site as its 2022 South East winner in the public sector projects section.
They said: ‘HQube is an innovative development using repurposed shipping containers with the aim of encouraging the growth and vibrancy of local businesses in an area of High Wycombe which was officially a courtyard set on concrete for many years.
“It was a tough time for the construction industry and collaboration when people were working from home, but this project was completed on time and on budget.
“This program has been well designed, with clearly a ready local market evidenced by the 12 units offered upon completion of construction. The units are ‘brilliant’ and unique with their ‘north’ roof pitches and re-use old shipping containers.
“Very sustainable, with excellent green credentials and good use of public funds over the long term for growing small local businesses.”
John Chilver, Buckinghamshire Council Cabinet Member for Accessible Housing and Resources, said: “We are delighted to have received an award for this innovative design project.
“Not only does this support our thriving small business community here in Buckinghamshire, it also reflects our commitment to creating a more sustainable way of life in the future, in line with our climate change strategy.”
Another Buckinghamshire building also won in the South East – the £1.5million Cliveden Conservatory Café, which has had a facelift.
It won in the heritage category after the National Trust completed a major refurbishment project at the Grade II listed conservatory, which included replacing the glazed roof and adapting the building to combat the effects of climate change.
The judges said: ‘The project was notable for the role of Team Leader, who is the National Trust’s youngest female building expert and demonstrates the Trust’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, delivering a project complex and challenging conservation project, adapting the building for the future, to be enjoyed by visitors to Cliveden for many years to come.”