When asked to name Capita ESA’s specialisms and research interests, design director Nic Sampson responds frankly: ‘commercial architecture’.
His practice’s transformation of Courage Brewery’s knackered 1980s quasi-vernacular HQ in Staines underlines this as a serious declaration of intent. Its white concrete roof deck, featuring oblong light slots, cantilevers 11m and is paralleled by horizontal floor-level strata and brises-soleil, with judicious areas of glass walling eschewed as its dominant facade elements. ‘Without wishing to appear immodest, I think Strata is the best office development seen in the Thames Valley for a long time,’ its creator purrs.
Asked what he considers the main challenges facing ESA in the coming year, Sampson deadpans: ‘Growth, holding profit levels, winning new work; same as always.’ ESA is uniquely poised. It’s part of the Capita empire, with 4,200 staff working in various areas of property and infrastructure, but its other foot is firmly planted in its 106-year legacy, rooted in the Percy Thomas Partnership and Hull practice ESA, which Capita acquired in 2011. By comparison, other practices in AJ100’s largest 10 are pop-up shops. This is why ESA enjoys the benefits of maturity, despite its recent eventful corporate history.
Read the full profile by Felix Mara here