The Plaza

Great Notley, Braintree
Braintree District Council

A landmark enterprise centre for a community of small businesses designed to support innovation and wellbeing.

Set within the Horizon 120 Business & Innovation Park, The Plaza is a new enterprise centre which provides workspace and shared facilities for small businesses and entrepreneurs.

As the first phase of the Horizon 120 Masterplan, The Plaza was designed as a high-quality landmark building which sets the character of the wider 100-acre business park.

Guided by a Local Development Order which laid out design standards and aspirations, we worked closely with Braintree District Council to create a business hub which supports innovation, collaboration and a ‘healthy working lifestyle’.

The scheme provides various types and sizes of workspace (private offices, open plan co-working areas, and maker space for prototype development) as well as bookable meeting and seminar rooms which are all equipped with the latest technology. The range of workspaces on offer suits smaller businesses whilst also giving them opportunities to grow and scale-up within the enterprise centre.

The Plaza has been designed to facilitate collaboration and innovation. Shared social spaces, including breakout areas, kitchenettes/tea points, and roof terraces with scenic views, are ideal for the chance encounters and impromptu meetings that often spark creativity.

Outside, a beautifully landscaped public space, with seating and access to superfast WIFI, provides another informal meeting area and encourages people to connect outdoors.

Perhaps The Plaza’s greatest asset is its position on the edge of the Great Notley Country Park. Paths, jogging trails and bike routes, which were carefully integrated into the scheme by our Landscape team, link the business park to the neighbouring parkland which provides a great place to exercise, relax, or network.

Onsite bike storage, showers and changing facilities also help to promote active travel.

With its busy café and hireable conference/events spaces, The Plaza has become a central hub and meeting point for the wider business park and local community.

Close collaboration for an expedient design process

Embarking on a journey to create a new enterprise centre in the midst of the pandemic, we thought about ideas for the future post-pandemic workplace and kept spaces as flexible as possible.

As part of the brief development, we researched and appraised similar local enterprise centres and took the client team to see a successful co-working and maker space.

The teams worked remotely throughout the entire design process, relying on video conferencing and digital presentations to convey ideas and record feedback on emerging design proposals. This required a disciplined and precise approach to the stakeholder engagement to ensure proposals were delivered succinctly and all feedback was captured.

The project progressed at pace and we achieved RIBA Stages 1-4 in just 23 weeks.

This was only possible through constructive collaboration with all stakeholders and a decisive and speedy decision-making process. Working under a Local Development Order enabled the planning process to be streamlined and eliminated risk of delays.

Stride Treglown has been central to Braintree’s project to deliver our new BREEAM Excellent Enterprise Centre. They crystallised our concept into a bright and contemporary building, with a variety of spaces and environments to foster creativity and collaboration. There is a real buzz helped by some dynamic public art and it is already proving immensely popular with local businesses and events.

Aidan Kelly, Interim Head of Strategic Investment, Braintree District Council