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7 July 2017

The five coolest things about McLaren's Technical Centre

By Peter AndersonPeter Anderson
  • Foster and Partners, headed up by the famous Norman Foster, got the gig to design MTC over a decade ago. Foster and Partners, headed up by the famous Norman Foster, got the gig to design MTC over a decade ago.
  • When you look at MTC from above, it's a big yin-yang. When you look at MTC from above, it's a big yin-yang.
  • The McLaren Production Centre is a new building behind the yin-yang-shaped Technology Centre. The McLaren Production Centre is a new building behind the yin-yang-shaped Technology Centre.
  • F&P are responsible for an inordinate number of memorable buildings, including the Gherkin. (image credit: Peter Anderson) F&P are responsible for an inordinate number of memorable buildings, including the Gherkin. (image credit: Peter Anderson)

McLaren's massive McLaren Technology Centre HQ, nicknamed MTC, was commissioned and built under the watchful eye of former team and company boss Ron Dennis. Known for his...interesting...way of speaking, McLaren is also famous for presenting itself as cutting-edge techie and super-clean. Unsurprisingly, that's just what MTC is like. Here are five cool things about MTC.

 

1. The floor space of the car factory is dictated by the dimensions of the tiles

The McLaren Production Centre is a new building behind the yin-yang-shaped Technology Centre. The floor space was originally specced at 100 metres by 200 metres but Ron came back with different measurements. He'd measured the floor tiles (yep, the floor is tiled) and worked out with 3mm of grout between them, the builders would have to cut tiles to complete the job. And that just wouldn't do. So the floor space was reduced to ensure there wasn't a single cut tile in the place. If you want a new permanent piece of plant, it has to fit exactly within tile dimensions. Everything else is on wheels so the factory can be reconfigured anytime they like.

Everything else is on wheels so the factory can be reconfigured anytime they like.

2. The heating and cooling system uses the lake

When you look at MTC from above, it's a big yin-yang, with one half the building and the other half a decorative lake. Except it's not decorative. Like a Formula 1 car, everything is there for  a reason. Inside the building, three huge tanks pump water throughout, either heating or cooling to keep the air temp a comfortable 22 degrees, no matter where you are. When the wind tunnel fires up, the water gets way too warm, so it's cycled out of the building, flowing out and down a stepped wall. This releases the heat, oxygenates the water and ensures the lake never, ever freezes.

When the wind tunnel fires up, the water gets way too warm, so it's cycled out of the building.

 

3. The cafeteria has a lower air pressure than the rest of the place

The staff canteen - which has to run two sittings for lunch - has a lower air pressure than the rest of the centre. That's to ensure that none of the smells of food escape out into the building, thereby avoiding upsetting the balance of the rest of the factory which houses the F1 team, the heritage department and McLaren's growing automotive, Applied Technologies and marketing businesses. The food, supplied by Absolute Taste (which McLaren used to own) is superb, so we're not sure what the fuss is about...

That's to ensure that none of the smells of food escape out into the building.

4.  MTC was designed by the same people that did Hong Kong Airport and London’s Gherkin

Foster and Partners, headed up by the famous Norman Foster, got the gig to design MTC over a decade ago. It's a classic F&P building - distinctive, elegant and iconic. F&P are responsible for an inordinate number of memorable buildings, including the huge Hong Kong International Airport (famous for being covered by a single canopy roof) and London's beautiful 30 St Mary's Axe, aka The Gherkin and the reconstructed Reichstag building in Berlin.

F&P are responsible for an inordinate number of memorable buildings.

5. You can walk through the grounds

Yep, you read that right. If you go "rambling" as the Brits call it, you're more than welcome to walk through the grounds as long as you don't try to gain access to McLaren itself. MTC sits among rolling fields in Surrey near the town of Woking. If you didn't know MTC was there, you might think a spaceship has landed. If you're a War of the Worlds fan, the MTC's location isn't far from where the aliens were supposed to have landed, basically in HG Wells' backyard.

If you go "rambling" as the Brits call it, you're more than welcome to walk through the grounds.

 

What's your favorite part of the McLaren HQ? Let us know in the comments below.