A high-profile and complex office move has given a huge boost to a landmark Newcastle city centre development.

Womble Bond Dickinson has moved its 420-strong Newcastle workforce into The Spark, relocating from the Quayside into a new and improved office within the innovation quarter Newcastle Helix.

Energy transition is an area WBD champions, so the overall design concept was centred around limiting the office’s ecological impact, while providing its people with a collaborative workplace.

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Spanning four storeys, each area of the office is intended for a different purpose, including soundproof booths, open group working areas, quiet working zones, traditional desks and office space as well as audio-visual kits to support hybrid and flexible working.

Where possible, materials and products were selected from the same manufacturer to minimise carbon impact from transportation. The majority of the furniture was supplied by Sedus Stoll which was the first in the world to achieve EMAS III certification, channelling profits into foundations to fund social and ecological projects around the world.

The Northern Echo: The WBD officesThe WBD offices

Worktops in the kitchen contain some recycled materials and are designed to be repaired or reworked into new layouts or repurposed in the future if design layouts change, while carpets were chosen from the same range to minimise wastage and contain recycled materials. They also fall into a buy back scheme from the manufacturer at the end of their life stage. Fabrics come from Northern suppliers, with some made from recycled polyester and engineered to be durable, with many awarded EU EcoLabel status.

Using perimeter walls and shared walls between workspaces minimised the amount of construction materials needed, with partitions and ceilings made from recycled materials that can be recycled at the end of their life.

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The layout and design encourage walking between floors rather than taking the lift, and plenty of natural daylight reduces energy usage. Sustainable travel is also a key feature of the location and people are encouraged to cycle, walk, or run to work. The office is surrounded by public transport links as close as 0.1 miles away and has secure storage, showers and lockers.

WBD has a long-standing relationship with Newcastle Helix having advised on the district green energy scheme – a centralised energy system for the entire 24-acre site that uses emerging energy technologies, housed in a building designed to blend in with the rest of the quarter. The scheme is a partnership between Newcastle City Council and ENGIE, estimated to provide a carbon emission saving of 30,650 tonnes over 40 years.

The Northern Echo: The WBD officesThe WBD offices

Nigel Emmerson, Partner and Head of Office at WBD Newcastle, said: “Newcastle Helix is already renowned as a hub of innovation in Europe and as a firm dedicated to embracing and driving innovation in the legal sector, its values aligned perfectly with ours making it an obvious choice for our new office. It’s fantastic to have moved into The Spark as we first made this commitment during the pandemic to play our part in the economic recovery of the region.

“It was incredibly important that we created a space with green credentials that will evolve with us over time.

“The move also signals confidence in the North East and emphasises the demand for 'offices of the future' as businesses adapt to new ways of working and collaborating. It isn't just about the quality of the design and build, it's unique eco-systems that foster collaboration and support healthy workplace culture."

WBD’s search for new office accommodation and lease negotiations were conducted by BNP Paribas Real Estate, while workspace consultants WKspace worked on the design. Funding was secured from HSBC UK.