Eco-friendly brand drives eco-friendly factory

Neal's Yard Remedies extends and refurbishes

When Neal’s Yard Remedies decided it needed to extend and refurbish its existing factory HQ in Dorset, it was down to award-winning architects Boon Brown to ensure the company’s green ethics were woven throughout the project. From a three-storey-high ‘living’ wall to unique honeycomb-inspired office buildings, the extensions demonstrate the distinctive characteristics and environmental sensitivity of the Neal’s Yard Remedies brand. Craig Jones, Architectural Director at Boon Brown takes us through the project.


The Project – past and present

Neal’s Yard Remedies (NYR) is a natural organic health and beauty product manufacturer and retailer, whose commitment to sustainable sourcing, eco-friendly manufacture and social responsibility is the keystone of its existence. So when demand for its products necessitated an expansion of its existing factory, the £4m upgrade and expansion project had to reflect that ethos. Boon Brown’s design created a practical and handsome structure, sensitive to its semi-rural setting and with sustainability, resource efficiency and wellbeing centre stage.


The original building, constructed in 2005, aimed to provide a people-focused, environmentally responsible building sympathetic to its setting, with the smallest possible carbon footprint. Conservation of natural resources was a priority in the design and construction, including on-site energy generation, the collection of rainwater and water conservation, and the use of low embodied energy materials. The original project was a successful test bed for the use of unfired clay bricks to add thermal mass; the building has a leakage rate less than one fifth of the statutory requirements.


The existing buildings made use of energy-saving techniques such as natural solar gain through the orientation of the buildings, solar energy through photovoltaics on south-facing roofs, and natural ventilation where possible. The 2016 refurbishment and extension deliberately built upon the existing “green” technologies and added the latest developments in sustainability thinking.


As well as upgrading the existing facilities, the project included the construction of three new extensions, together incorporating manufacturing and packaging, warehousing, laboratories, offices, staff welfare facilities and a retail outlet. The approximately 1000m2 factory extension is arranged over four different levels and is designed as a simple extrusion of the original building’s monopitch roof. It incorporates 495m2 of manufacturing, packaging and support areas on the ground floor, and 300m2 of offices, staff facilities, and storage on the first floor. A 110m2 laboratory is located on a half landing level over the manufacturing area and a 75m2 store is situated at high level over the welfare facilities.


The warehouse extension is a single-storey double-height space comprising 275m2 of warehousing and a 103m2 covered loading bay. “The design of the warehouse was a greater challenge as it is located to the front of the site,” says Craig. “We mirrored the roof shape of the original premises and added a three-storey-high ‘living’ wall on the front elevation.” The green foliage counters the corrugated blue GRP cladding, retaining visibility of the original form and mirroring it with a façade suitable to this rural setting.