The chalet-style dining area at Berghaus. Photo: Berghaus

The chalet-style dining area at Berghaus. Photo: Berghaus

One of the UK’s best known outdoor brands has received an award for its headquarters refurbishment.

Berghaus’s modernisation of its Sunderland office gained a top title in the British Council for Offices awards at a London ceremony.

It won the national title of ‘best fit-out of workplace’ for its innovative design which includes a chalet-style staff dining area and outdoors touches throughout the building.

The awards celebrate excellence in the built workplace and Berghaus picked up the national prize after already securing the regional accolade for the North of England.

The reception area at the Sunderland HQ. Photo: Berghaus

The reception area at the Sunderland HQ. Photo: Berghaus

The refurbishment of the Berghaus office began early in 2014 and was completed in December 2015. The work involved major upgrades to both floors of the HQ, which was built for the company in 1999 and can accommodate up to 140 staff.

The project was led by the company’s human resources director Sarah Middleton, with regular input from representatives of departments across the business. Interior design work and planning was managed by Katie Greenyer, creative director at parent company Pentland Brands, and project architect was London firm Rock Townsend.

The company said its building incorporates a range of features and design touches to provide distinctiveness and reflect the outdoor market that Berghaus products are designed for.

The sky rail at Berghaus's headquarters. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

The sky rail at Berghaus's headquarters. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

The chalet-style communal dining area is made of recycled wood scaffold planks that also line the ceiling throughout the ground floor ‘Basecamp’ and reception. The reception desk itself represents a routed map of Sunderland with global and local colloquialisms. The rope-lined stairwell incorporates knots that are seen throughout the building, including on storage cabinets.

Wherever possible, refurbishment work has been completed using sustainable materials and methods. Energy- and water-saving principles have also been applied and there are several recycling points on both floors.

A ‘sky rail’ lines the ceiling of the first floor and holds both archive and current products as a reminder of what Berghaus does and where the brand has come from.

Inspirational quotations from outdoor athletes associated with Berghaus, such as Sir Chris Bonington and Leo Houlding, can be found on windows and other surfaces on both floors and an open plan environment encourages teams to communicate with each other.

Large skylights and tall windows keep the environment light, while also providing views across the River Wear.

Berghaus president Richard Leedham in the company's Sunderland HQ. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Berghaus president Richard Leedham in the company's Sunderland HQ. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Richard Leedham, Berghaus brand president, said: “We are delighted to accept this major national award, which I believe is richly deserved by the fantastic team that worked on the refurbishment, both in-house, from our parent company Pentland and at Rock Townsend.

“We closely involved employees at every stage of the project and they really did help to shape what we did to the building. The result is that we are able to develop and market cutting-edge outdoor products in truly world-class headquarters. This is already having a positive effect in the business and is a really great development for current and future team members.

“It is a wonderful environment in which to work and I think that the company can take great pride in this.”

Berghaus’s global HQ is located on Sunderland Enterprise Park. Although products are not manufactured or warehoused in the building, all design and development work takes place on site.

The company's Wearside office. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

The company's Wearside office. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

The building houses a product and materials testing laboratory, pattern cutting and sample room, and facilities for the company’s clothing, footwear, rucksacks and accessories designers.

The Sunderland building is home to a wide range of departments, including product management, marketing, operations, sales, customer services, quality assurance, corporate responsibility, finance and human resources. The global senior executive team, led by brand president Richard Leedham, is also based in the building.

Richard Kauntze, chief executive of the BCO, said: “This project perfectly exemplifies what can be achieved with the creative re-use of an existing building and its spaces.

“Despite being a rather typical out-of-town office building of its period, the project team were unhindered in transforming the building, in a cost effective way, into a modern working environment to be proud of.”

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