Insurance giant Zurich has signed contracts with Skanska for work to begin on its new Swindon offices next month.
The new-build will be the anchor project in the Swindon Kimmerfields development.
According to the firm, the project demonstrates its commitment to Swindon, where it has a long history as one of the town’s largest employers.
That commitment was highlighted by South Swindon MP Robert Buckland in his reaction to the news.
He said: “I’m delighted that contracts have been signed and work is to begin on the construction of Zurich’s new office at the Kimmerfields site, which is a flagship element of the town centre’s regeneration scheme.
“Zurich’s commitment to Swindon is a testament to the skills and knowledge of the local workforce and I am confident that the new site will be at the centre of Swindon’s thriving and vibrant business district.”
The new offices will play an important role in the ongoing regeneration of the town centre, providing over 950 staff with a modern workspace designed to enhance their wellbeing and the local environment.
Councillor David Renard, Leader of Swindon Borough Council, said: “Zurich’s decision to maintain its presence in Swindon is tremendous news for the town and a significant boost to our local economy. This is the first brand-new office block to be built in the town centre in a generation and is a real statement of intent, not to mention a show of faith, in our exciting vision to rejuvenate this particular area.
“This new striking building with its sustainable features will be a catalyst for further investment and build on our exciting plans for the Fleming Way Bus Boulevard and the adjacent Kimmerfields site.”
The firm says that, reflecting Zurich’s focus on sustainability, the new build is looking to achieve a BREEAM - Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method - rating of ‘Excellent’ on completion, as well as minimising waste during construction and through the building’s life cycle.
It will be located on a long-vacant brownfield site in the town centre, with work due to be completed in 2022. The building will provide more than 100,000 sqft of office space over six floors, with a terrace and function space at roof level.
The offices will be single use plastic-free, with an ambition of having no printing or filing and the digitisation of all post. Electric car charging points will be installed for visitors.
There are plans for a beehive on the roof terrace to boost biodiversity and produce honey to be sold and raise money for Zurich’s charitable arm the Zurich Community Trust.
Zurich’s new Swindon offices will continue to house the trust, which recently announced a £2m support package for charities working to tackle the Covid crisis. This includes a £25,000 award to the Wiltshire Community Foundation. A total of £134,000 has also been donated to local partner organisations including a number of projects in Swindon.
A central feature of the building will be an open atrium staircase to encourage more walking between floors. There will also be extra facilities for cyclists, to encourage more sustainable means of getting to and from work.
John Keppel, Zurich UK Chief Operating Officer said: “Swindon has been home to Zurich for over 30 years and we’re pleased to be playing our part in the regeneration of the town centre.
"The positive impact that our buildings can have on the environment and health and well-being of employees are a vital part of our sustainability agenda and sit at the heart of our new office design.
“We’ve great employees and we’re providing them with a workplace that suits their needs, helping them to continue delivering great service to our customers while playing a valuable role in our local community.”
Steve Holbrook, Skanska’s Managing Director, Building, said: “We are delighted to welcome Zurich as a customer, and to be part of their ongoing relationship with Swindon. The project is aiming to achieve BREEAM ‘Excellent’ and we will use innovative construction techniques to help them realise this ambition.”
Zurich will be reaching out to local schools, colleges and community groups to create artwork via a competition to be displayed in the new building. The insurer will also be looking into opportunities for local college students to visit the site as part of its work with schools to inspire and engage young people regarding careers in insurance.