McLaren Technology Centre in Surrey

Architects: Foster & Partners

Location: Surrey

McLaren Technology Centre Website:

McLaren Website:

The McLaren Technology Centre is a symbol of the whole organization:McLaren and a representative of the definite beauty of their long term work. It’s designers are the well-known Foster and Partners who have succeeded in designing many of the new age most beautiful modern buildings.


The McLaren Technology Centre is located on a 50 hectare site located approximately three kilometres north of Woking town centre, Surrey, UK.

The building’s 57,000 square metres of office space is home to the majority of the McLaren group’s 900 employees, in an area large enough to hold nine Boeing 747 jumbo jets.

The building is environmentally friendly, with natural light used wherever possible and energy recycled throughout the site.

“This is a very large building, something like 100m by 200m, and it’s 11m high,” says David Nelson, partner at Foster & Partners. “That means it is low and flat. In plan it is circular, to incorporate the formal part of the lake which is set within a full circle.

“The main body of the building is broken into 18-metre wide ‘fingers’, with six-metre wide strips between them, which we call the ‘streets’. These allow daylight into the interior of the building and give everyone working inside an awareness of the outside. They also form part of the ventilation system of the building.”

In cross section, there are mezzanine floors 18m wide incorporated in the 11m from ground to roof level. “In simple terms,” says Nelson, “the idea is that the design, administration and people working in areas like light assembly will work on the upper level, directly under the roof. ”

The lake, one of the signature features of the building is not simply there for the sake of appearances. Functional as well as aesthetically attractive, its 50,000 cubic metres of water form a vital part of the cooling infrastructure for the building. Water is pumped, one third directly and two thirds via a natural filtration system of reed beds and a cleansing biotope, through a series of heat exchangers which extract heat from the chiller plant. The water is recirculated via a 160m long cascade that extends around the far edge of the lake and its temperature reduces as it cascades down a series of shallow steps. Plus the fast flowing movement of the water causes it to aerate thereby helping to oxygenate the system.


The McLaren Technology Centre posed the challenge of sensitively accommodating a 62 hectare site, within which 57,000m2 of accommodation had to be contained within a 20,000m2 footprint.

A height limitation for the building was given – 11 metres above groundlevel – and the low built, deep plan building was sunk into the landscape, shielded from view by the planting of 100,000 new trees.

Turkish hazel, Norwegian Maple, White Stemmed Himalayan Birch and Scots Pine trees have been specially selected along with a wide variety of ornamental shrubs and two-and-a-half kilometres of box hedging to provide an ever changing, year round display. In addition, 33 hectares of the site have been sown with wild flower seeds to establish a wild-flower meadow.

There are five lakes at the McLaren Technology Centre, the formal lake at the front of the building and a further series of interconnected ecology lakes. The lake water is used to cool the building. It is pumped through a natural filtration system system of reed beds and a cleansing biotape through to the building’s heat exchangers. Cold water is stored in five cooling buffer vessels located next to the building’s staff restaurant. The water circulates every 48 hours. The use of lake water for cooling purposes has reduced the requirement for cooling towers from seven to two.

All run off water goes through the network of lakes: the rainwater from the roof goes directly into the formal lake while car-parking drainage flows through the reed beds before dissipating into the adjacent River Bourne. The form of the cascade and the affect of the water flow was developed using full size models.


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