Written by
Andrew Mackie
Listed in
Posted on
21st Jun 2021
Recycling & Billet Casting Facility

As Keppie drives forward proposals for a number of significant and large-scale industrial projects across the UK, we take a look at how responding to business needs is central to successful industrial design in 2021.

What’s happening now

As we say at Keppie, industrial design is all about understanding the environment that the industry operates in.

The rise of e-commerce during the pandemic is one of the fundamental drivers of demand for industrial space right now.

Current market analysis shows that this trend is only going to accelerate as consumer behaviour continues to shift in favour of online purchasing, bringing with it expectations of swift service and agile business that can adapt to obstacles thrown up by the pandemic and Brexit.

We attended a market update webinar recently, and leading industrial and logistics property experts forecast that the UK could require an extra 51 million sq ft (4.75 million sq m) of logistics space by the end of 2024 to support the growth of e-commerce retail sales.

Market experts point to the growth of a ‘just in time’ network, where retailers and online sales need their product distribution centres to be strategically located and accessible, in order to meet the ‘day of and next day’ delivery expectations of consumers. We are seeing this in action across the UK as companies like Amazon, DPD, Tesco and Next significantly invest in and expand their logistic networks.

Manufacturers are also now looking to increase industrial space to secure their supply chains going forward. Some businesses are shifting their supply chains from a ‘just in time’ to a ‘just in case’ model as a result of the mass disruption caused by global lockdowns and the difficulties navigating Brexit.

It is also worth highlighting the approach to the UK’s existing industrial and logistics stock, an intelligent reimagining of these spaces is required to meet the needs of modern occupiers, using the type of environmentally responsive, flexible and sustainable ideas that we excel in.

Recycling & Billet Casting Facility
Water Canning Facility

Our current projects

It is well known that, here at Keppie, we relish the opportunity to create innovative and effective industrial spaces for our clients.

We pride ourselves on making a positive difference to the built environment and we have an established history of designing award-winning and innovative industrial, commercial and logistics facilities.

We demonstrated this recently with our newly completed Co-op Dalcross Distribution Centre (12,000 sq ft/ 1,115 sq m), a new logistics facility in Inverness that will service the Co-op’s network of stores across the north of Scotland. And the Energy Centre at the Event Complex in Aberdeen (27,000 sq ft/ 2,510 sq m). The Energy Centre houses the largest hydrogen fuel cell installation in the UK and provides low-carbon energy for the city’s world class exhibition and conference centre.

Right now, we are involved in a number of exciting industrial projects. What unites them is our approach to delivering exactly what each client needs – taking our carefully considered and astute environmental response and blending remarkable design and cutting-edge technologies.

Recycling & Billet Casting Facility, Fort William

Keppie recently prepared planning proposals for a circa 135,000 sq ft (12,540 sq m) Recycling & Billet Casting Facility for our client in Fort William.

The new industrial facility will produce 80ktpa of long, round shapes (‘billets’) for the domestic construction sector, which currently relies heavily on imports. The billets will supply domestic construction, building and transport sectors, supplanting some of the current dependency on imports.

With the current smelting processes already powered by zero emission hydro-electric power, the new addition of aluminium recycling and expansion into downstream billets will allow our client to manufacture some of the most sustainably produced billets in the world, giving it a competitive advantage as the demand for ‘green aluminium’ grows.

A key element that informed the design of the Recycling & Billet Casting Facility is an understanding of the existing site context and wider site topography. The unique and sensitive setting of Glen Nevis has greatly influenced the design and form of the proposed facility.

Water Canning Facility, Fort William

Adjacent to the Recycling & Billet Casting Facility, Keppie are also developing proposals for another industrial building, a circa 18,000 sq ft (1,675 sq m) Water Canning Facility. The proposals are a pilot project for the world’s first Scottish mountain water packaged in recyclable aluminium cans using renewable energy.

Appropriate renewable technologies and passive design features are an inherent part of our emerging architectural design approach, including north lights, solar PV, a thermally efficient envelope and rainwater harvesting. The new build facility will use green energy from the existing hydro infrastructure and aims to benefit from the location and relationship to the proposed Recycling & Billet Casting Facility to meet the key sustainability requirements of our client’s brief.

Integrated Logistics Hub & Light Industrial Scheme, South-West England

Keppie are currently developing proposals for a circa 500,000 sq ft+ (46,500 sq m+) logistics hub and light industrial scheme in the south-west of the UK. The design concept for the logistic hub proposes a terraced floor plan that works in harmony with the challenging site topography. The site for the facility is strategically located with accessibility to higher density areas nearby.

We are providing a range of different types of storage spaces within the logistics hub to accommodate our client’s brief. Giving detailed consideration to the storage plan layout, operational requirements, section/height of the building, and the overall massing concept, ensures that we have created a functional, coherent and efficient architectural design.

Working alongside the client and design team, the emerging architectural proposals also incorporate low carbon building design – including fabric thermal performance, roof configuration and natural light – and appropriate energy strategy options, such as solar PV and rainwater harvesting, and reduced water demand.

We’re proposing a mixture of light industrial/logistic unit sizes for the wider site, taking cognisance of the client brief, market demand, the surrounding context and adjacent masterplan proposals.

What next at Keppie

As demand in the sector remains buoyant, at Keppie we look forward to continuing to expand our portfolio of industrial projects and to working alongside clients to compliment the latest technology with buildings that are both fit for purpose and reflect the innovation at work.

The above industrial projects highlight the importance of understanding the environment that the industry operates in.

We must be sympathetic to the building purpose and consider the technology, process and computation associated with the facility, to create considered and appropriate designs that can make the operational processes as efficient and productive as possible.

Extensive analysis and consideration of the site, context and sustainability are also important for informing the building concept, creating an environmentally responsive, yet functional building that relates to its setting and responds to business needs.