Hiscox, the global specialist insurer was looking to expand outside London. York was selected as a new flagship location for 500 staff of underwriters, claims solicitors, sales, marketing and support staff, and a direct-to-consumer centre. Intended to promote innovation, the space had to support the firm’s open, customer focused culture, and brand association with art, ultimately becoming a template for Hiscox offices.

To win the design competition for the building, KKS collaborated with Make Architects taking a user-led approach, with business function guiding building form. Collaboration and communication were priorities, revealed in ‘speed dating’ interviews and workshops. Hiscox concern was that a growing head count might compromise a successful inclusive culture.

The design response was a side core to maximise un-interrupted internal space. An open staircase rises through receding open-plan floorplates, enabling communication across the atrium.

CAT A elements, lifts, toilets and common parts, efficiently integrated into the base build, exceeded BCO guidelines to future proof the space. Setting the look and feel for CAT B interiors to come, treatment of floors, reception and the atrium art café created an harmonious whole, accentuating the basebuild architecture. Drawing the eye upwards, dark leather handrails connect the staircase line to the flowing stone and glass facade, referencing York’s walls.

Hiscox offices around the world are memorable to visitors and differentiated through the distinctive use of art. For Hiscox at York, the building is the art.