His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester officially opened the new £4m, 24,000 sq ft offices for the Casey Group in Rochdale on Thursday.
Prince Richard, the Duke of Gloucester, is the youngest grandson of King George V and Queen Mary. He practised architecture as a partner of a London firm until he began Royal duties on behalf of his cousin, Queen Elizabeth II, in 1972. The Duke has remained particularly interested in architecture and conservation.
Casey Group has been in business for more than 40 years and specialises in building, hard and soft landscaping, and environmental improvements.
Peter Casey, company chairman, said, "We are very proud of our new office building and it is an honour that His Royal Highness, The Duke of Gloucester, is here to celebrate it with our staff and our guests. The building illustrates how far the company has come over the years and, with his experience, it is particularly relevant that it is the Duke performing our opening ceremony".
The offices were designed by Taylor Young, based in Handforth. The brief was for an eco-bulding in response to its setting in the Green Belt. The local authority placed restrictions on design including limits on the height and footprint of the building – this led to the configuration of a main core with two two-storey, flat roofed wings. A third, northern wing was also consented allowing for future expansion.
Casey said the design produced strong environmental performance using simple services and natural ventilation linked to thermal mass. The use of a concrete frame and green roof, insulated render and timber cladding allowed the insulation layer to be on the outside of the external masonry. This was combined with internal walls of feature stone work and large areas of 'slate' tiled flooring providing the building with a very high thermal mass. This helps to maintain stable temperature conditions across the day.
Tony Chell, Casey's managing director, said: "It has taken us a very long time to assemble the individual components that bring together our vision of the perfect working environment. The establishment of our new office building on the site of the former Rydings Mill within the green belt area has been a truly remarkable achievement.
"This transformation and redevelopment of the approach to the office through our now well established wild life corridor is absolutely amazing."