Hiscox and York St John University launch innovative workplace design challenge

Specialist insurer Hiscox and York St John University have joined forces to launch a design competition that will give students the opportunity to make their mark on the insurer’s new landmark building in the city – opening in 2015.

Internationally acclaimed architect Ken Shuttleworth – founder of MAKE Architects, which has designed the new Hiscox offices in York – launched the Tomorrow’s Workplace design competition on 3 February. The competition will give York St John University postgraduate and undergraduate (Level 3) design and psychology students the chance to develop a product or environment that can be displayed or utilised in the new Hiscox office building.  It’s a unique opportunity for them to work on a live brief to creatively address the challenge of progressive work spaces.

The competition will see students research effective work spaces and learn about how the working environment can affect productivity and creativity through workshops, on-site studies and presentations from industry experts. This will include hearing from the Hiscox project team which includes architects Make; commercial real estate services and investment firm CBRE; consulting engineers, designers and consultants Arup; Brand Experience Consultancy; Swiss furniture designer and manufacturer Vitra; and building services consultants BDSP.

Sue Reece, Pro Vice Chancellor (development) at York St John University, explained: “This is a fantastic opportunity for our students to learn and develop their skills with support from a credible group of industry experts. It is a unique opportunity for our students to work on a live brief with one of the city’s newest employers – a great challenge for them to sink their teeth into.”

During the first phase of the competition, design and psychology students will work together to review psychology in the workplace. They will analyse human behaviour in desk and meeting spaces, and gain greater understanding of preferred working environments. The individual students, or cross-faculty teams, will then develop concepts designed to improve the working environment.

The winning student or team in the first stage of the competition will win an expenses paid trip to Vitra’s factory in Switzerland. The successful Design student from this team will also receive a £2,500 prize to either pursue a MA Design course at the University or a 12-month internship with the Phoenix Centre – York St John University’s affordable space for new creative and IT-based ventures.

The designer chosen to progress from stage one of the competition will continue to develop their concepts and receive further professional support. The winning designer will work with Hiscox’s design partners to develop the concept that will be displayed or utilised in the new Hiscox office building and will receive an additional £2,500 prize.

Alan Millard, Chief Operating Officer, Hiscox UK, commented: “Our York office will be the creative hub of our UK business and a centre that drives innovation.  We are hugely excited to be working with local students on our ambition to create a cutting-edge working environment that fosters collaboration and look forward to seeing the competition progress.”

Jason Parker, Partner at Make Architects, added: “Dynamic open plan and flexible work spaces are increasingly popular as they encourage creativity and collaboration across a workforce. Technological advancements mean that workspaces have become more versatile as employees no longer have to stay tied to one place to be able to do their job. We are looking for innovative and creative ideas from the students that will make a real impact on the way the Hiscox team in York will operate.”

For further information please contact:

The Partners Group Hannah Trinder T: 01904 610 077 E: Hannah@partners-group.co.uk

Hiscox Ltd Lucy Hensher T: 020 7448 6619 E: Lucy.hensher@HISCOX.com