New London Architecture

Sycamore House


Conversion of an industrial warehouse into a vibrant coworking and laboratories space for biomedical research companies.

Sycamore House is the redevelopment and conversion of an industrial warehouse into a vibrant hub for coworking biomedical research companies. The new building houses a combination of laboratory spaces, offices and collaborative meeting areas for start-up, scale-up and mature companies across the life science sector.

Commissioned by Kadans Science Partner and Mission Street, Owers Warwick Architects and Heyne Tillett Steel worked closely to create a new, modern and inclusive environment, whilst retaining as much of the existing structure and fabric as possible.

Designed with collaboration and inclusivity at its heart, the new inner structure has been devised as a large double height communal space and two long streets of offices and laboratories with ‘winter garden’ break-out spaces at key junctions. The office and laboratory spaces span over 2-storeys along the streets, created by new mezzanine floors. The elevations along the streets are predominantly transparent to create light and openness throughout the coworking spaces. There are small breakout areas and workbenches all along the streets to foster collaboration and at the two key junctions, larger ‘winter gardens’ have been designed to act as focal points for bringing people together to share knowledge and ideas.

The brief from Kadans and their UK development partner, Mission Street, was to recreate their Dutch model of sub-divisible laboratory and office spaces with a key emphasis on vibrant, communal areas for staff from different companies to mix and collaborate.

The challenge to convert this large warehouse, on the outskirts of Stevenage, at first seemed daunting. However, as we analysed the building and its constraints a solution started to evolve that worked with the grain of the building to create an exciting series of spaces that worked functionally to meet the client’s brief.

The primary concept was to form an internalised entrance square, populated with café and meeting spaces to create a buzz as you enter the building. From here a wide street, flanked by office and laboratory pavilions, runs through the building, punctuated by two lush, verdant winter gardens. In these winter gardens are workbenches, soft seating, and kitchenettes to foster collaborative working.

The laboratories and offices pavilions sit below the mega-structure of the warehouse. Laboratories are located on the ground floor and help advertise the science-led nature the occupants.

The design team worked closely to overcome issues inherent in creating a laboratory-based building in an existing structure. The solutions included designing a thin concrete flat slab, that facilitates a flexible horizontal distribution of services and locating plant rooms in key spaces.

To fulfil the highly sustainable aspirations of the team, the building’s roof is over-clad to waterproof and insulate the large existing envelope. The office and laboratory pavilions are the only mechanically conditioned areas whilst the warehouse-volume is left ambient. Together with the reuse and refurbishment of the existing structure and envelope, and minimal structural intervention we designed a sustainable solution.

A combination of colour, planting, roof lights and furniture soften what could be a hard space to generate a vibrant, collegiate environment.

Richard Warwick, Director
Owers Warwick Architects

Project information




* N/A Outside of London


6350 sq m


May 2022


2 Gunnels Wood Rd, Stevenage SG1 2BP, UK

Team Credits


Owers Warwick Architects


Kadans Science Partner 2 UK Limited

Structural Engineer

Heyne Tillett Steel

M&E / Sustainability Engineer

Hilson Moran



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