Hiscox office building by Make Architects features a grand staircase and a Soviet rocket

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A decommissioned Soviet rocket is the centrepiece for this sculptural cast-concrete office in York, England, designed by Make Architects for insurance company Hiscox (+ slideshow).

Hiscox by Make

London-based Make was tasked with creating a contemporary building for the global firm, but one that would sit comfortably in its setting within a historic walled city.

Hiscox by Make

It responded with a building that features three different areas of materials.

Externally the building has two faces, one brick and one glass, but internally it features a series of curving concrete floors that wrap around a spacious atrium

Hiscox by Make

This atrium forms the heart of the building, encompassing the full four-storey height of the structure. It serves a number of functions, as a reception, a cafe, an informal meeting area and a general break-out space for staff.

Hiscox by Make

The 12-metre-long decommissioned rocket sits at the centre of the atrium, illuminated from above by a curving skylight. It is one of several artworks integrated into the office, intended to "provoke and inspire" staff.



Snaking around the perimeter of the space, a grand concrete ascends between all four floors and also integrates balconies.

Hiscox by Make

In this way, staff are encouraged to interact with one another as they make their way up to their workspaces – which are all open plan.

Hiscox by Make

"Our brief was to create a totally bespoke workplace, designed from the inside out, that brings together the very best thinking in architecture, workplace and brand experience," said Make in a statement.

Hiscox by Make

"We selected robust materials that would improve with age and use, and used in-situ concrete throughout the interior interspersed with bespoke leather handrails and benches," it added.

Hiscox by Make

Externally, the building's two facades serve different functions. On the north side, the glazed curtain wall fronts the road and accommodates the main entrance.

Hiscox by Make

Meanwhile, the south-facing brick wall provides solar shading and also helps to tie the building in with its more traditional neighbours. But there is a twist – the brick strips are arranged around the windows in a basketweave effect.

Hiscox by Make

"One of our main design influences was heritage-rich York itself," said Make.

"The interior centrepiece – the ribbon-like concrete staircase – is inspired by the undulating city walls, as is the brick weave facade, which draws on the former hay and wool market that existed on the Hiscox site until the 1920s."

Hiscox by Make

The 4,432-square-metre Hiscox Building provides enough space for 500 employees, making it the company's biggest office outside London.

It also features a roof terrace offering staff views over the city rooftops towards York Minster cathedral.

Hiscox by Make

Make partner Jason Parker described it as "a building that conveys a sense of joy from both inside and out".

"We hope the building will provide a lasting legacy, enhancing its city context and establishing a strong and vibrant Hiscox presence for years to come," he said.

Hiscox by Make

Make was founded by former Foster + Partners partner Ken Shuttleworth, whose designs include 30 St Mary Axe, more commonly known as The Gherkin. Past projects by the firm include a university building constructed with straw and a kiosk with a folded aluminium shell.

Photography is by the architects.

Hiscox by Make
Site plan – click for larger image
Hiscox by Make
Ground floor plan – click for larger image
Hiscox by Make
Second floor plan – click for larger image
Hiscox by Make
Third floor plan – click for larger image
Hiscox by Make
Long section – click for larger image
Hiscox by Make
Cross section – click for larger image
  • Damian

    Look at our missile (Soviet s-200ax). Be inspired or else!

  • Doubtful Dodger

    This has to be the strangest thing for an insurance company to have in its office.

  • HeywoodFloyd

    Nice stairs.

  • Lorna Soar

    This was in collaboration with KKS. They collaborated on the strategic design from the build base through to the interiors and workspace.