While the UK auto industry continues to be affected by the uncertainty of Brexit, Jaguar opened the doors of its all-new £500m design facility in Gaydon, inviting media to experience the six-step process that takes place within the confines of the normally secretive studio space.
Designed by Bennetts Associates with input from Jaguar’s own design team, the new dedicated 12000 sq. meter design studio integrates the 280-member strong design team into one purpose-built creative space for the first time in the marque’s 84-year history. All of the firm’s design activities will now take place on the sprawling Gaydon campus, which also houses the older Land Rover studio.
The new studio replaces the Whitley studio, where Jaguar’s two design studios have been located since 1985. Besides being older, the Whitley facility also had 33 percent less space, and fewer modeling plates. Now, only engineering remains in the Whitley base.
Jaguar claims the new studio is the most advanced automotive design center in the world, developed to enhance the human creative design process with world-leading technologies. The layout – complete with a collaborative courtyard ‘hub’ at the center – facilitates a creative workflow for all of the teams, from exterior and interior designers, to clay modelers, digital designers and the CMF and technical teams.
“It’s a catalyst to inspire the rest of the business,” says Thomson.
From the outset of the project, which has taken three years to complete, Jaguar’s design team worked hand-in-hand with Bennetts Associates’ architects to create synergy between the building and the car design process.
“We immersed the architecture team on how Jaguar designs cars,” says chief exterior designer Adam Hatton, reflecting on how the Whitley space was separated across multiple floors. “[It] didn’t have the feeling of a collaborative space.”
The goal was not only to enhance the dialogue between the many different teams that work together during the design process but also to explore contemporary mobility issues. “We wanted to integrate everything in the heart of Gaydon to address all of the issues that are affecting the automotive industry.”
The main studios are named Studio 3 and Studio 4, taking inspiration from the numbers of the Le Mans-winning Jaguar D-types of 1957 and 1956 respectively, as well as paying homage to studios 1 and 2 at Whitley.
Studios 3 and 4 house a total of ten clay modeling plates, each measuring 20-meters long and capable of accommodating two clay models simultaneously. For the first time, designers can now place interior and exterior models next to one another to improve synergy and collaboration between the two disciplines.
“We consulted the entire design team to create our new home together as a family, ” said interior design director Alister Whelan. “That’s a key part of our ethos because we want to encourage even more collaboration and synergy between different design disciplines in the studio.”
The warmth of the wood within the new facility is offset by the technical aspects of the CNC milling machines, VR systems and the 11m-long 4K digital display wall. Hatton noted the 2.1km of LED lighting above the studio space, which can be moved to highlight every detail on the cars being worked on below.
Besides being far more open-plan than the older Whitley-based studio, there is a communal space at the center, where designers can gather. All of the office space and facilities is enveloped around the lower studio area, enabling the team to literally look over the full-size models taking shape below.
Viewing models from various heights is crucial, as the plan view gives the car momentum in the static environment. Now, for the first time, designers will be able to scrutinize the models from alternative heights from the Mezzanine, View Room and The Steps – an amphitheater-style seating area.
Erstwhile Jaguar design director Ian Callum also attended the formal opening ceremony of the new design studio. He lamented that he’d missed the actual move-in date by two weeks (he stepped down earlier this summer) but did have a say in the specifications of the studio. Julian Thomson now sits in the cozy office on the first floor.
Callum noted how the former Jaguar design studio was separated into four quadrants: “No one saw each other,” he said. “ This is different. Communication is everything.”
The outdoor viewing area – which is twice the size of the last studios’ – is accessed through large panes of double-height glass from the north-facing Studio 4 In total, the new Jaguar design studio has 906-square meters of glazing, including three full-length skylights that flood the studio with natural light.
“The viewing area will include plants,” said Callum. “The plan was to paint the [external] walls but we decided against that and chose to retain the neutral concrete color.”
Parallel plates and 5-axis Kolb milling machines occupy the space within. The plates in Land Rover’s studio, in contrast, are all in one row, a placement Callum jokingly calls “the M6”, in reference to the traffic-clogged motorway.
The deliberately light and warm nature of the studio is completed by the extensive use of structural wooden beams accentuated by the clean white walls. The environment is very modern and “feels less like a factory,” Callum said.
As Jaguar follows other automakers in the push to become more digital, the team is ramping up on its capabilities. The digital process will enable more virtual design reviews and result in fewer full-size models developed. This also plays a hand in saving time and trimming costs.
“We understand the issues that are facing the automotive industry and can respond accordingly through innovation and creativity,” said design director Julian Thomson. “The new facility brings the entire design team together in one hugely creative space. We truly believe that inspiration comes from interaction and collaboration.”
Jaguar still has an Advanced Design studio in the NAIC building in Coventry (where the Tata design studio is located), as well as a studio focused on Experience Design and HMI further north in Manchester.