Guest Author - Christine Blachford
McLaren have never been one to shy away from the glamour of Formula 1. There motorhome has recently been one of the biggest in the paddock. A few years ago, they launched the new car with a night-time display in Valencia, fireworks included.
Most F1 teams have a factory tucked away behind hedges to hide the uniform feel of the buildings. McLaren decided that their new Technology Centre would be a piece of stunning architecture, built to work with the landscape instead of blight it.
Ron Dennis had a strong idea of what he wanted, and teamed up with architect Norman Foster to make his vision come to life. Building work began in 1999 and the employees started work in 2003. The Centre was opened by Queen Elizabeth, with a lot of media coverage.
The concept of the building is a circle, with half making up the factory, and half a man made lake of water. The two are in the shape of Ying and Yang, and look stunning from the air. The lake isn't just for show, however, it is pumped through heat exchangers to cool the building and specifically the wind tunnel. The tunnel itself is at one end of the building, and is used for testing aerdynamics - currently of the Formula 1 car, although that will be less prominent as the new regulations reduce wind tunnel testing allowances. However, McLaren build all their cars at the factory, and not just the Formula 1 machines.
The lake attached to the building is just one of five bodies of water. The other four are ecology lakes and designed to encourage and conserve nature. Inside the building, many of the walls are made of glass, there is a lot of light and working areas are very spacious. Facilities include a restaurant, coffee bar, swimming pool and gym. There's also a visitor centre, although that is not part of the main building.
In all of the video footage and photographs shown off the Technology Centre, the building is always spotless and gleaming. I would hate to be the cleaner there, but then again, to work every day in such a beautiful spot might make up for it. You can find out more information about the centre, plus a video tour of the building, on the official McLaren site.