The bow-shaped entrance hall, port hole-peppered doors and sloping sides give away Salvus House’ original purpose as a base for a marine insurer.
Now, however, this impressive building is sailing into fresh waters, having been acquired by Business Durham to become a brand new hub for startups, hotdeskers, virtual deskers and fast-growing firms in a range of sectors.
It is also proving to be a successful testbed for wider, longer term ambitions for Aykley Heads which could see 6,000 new jobs and a £400m boost to the local economy through development of the wider Aykley Heads site.
Durham County Council plans to demolish its headquarters and develop the site as a centre for high-tech and high-paying jobs through several phases of development which will eventually see it become a vibrant hub for fintech, professional services and IT firms.
Those plans are a way off, but change is already in the air.
Atom Bank, which started with just two people, now has around 300 people at the Rivergreen Centre, where the business is redfining what it means to have a business bank account.
Atom, the UK’s first purely digital bank, could have easily been built up in Leeds, yet it now attracts top talent from across the region, with superstar advisor Will.i.am known to call in for brainstorming sessions, a ringing endorsement for the area as a whole.
New firms keen to make sure they’re in place ahead of the area’s exciting future are also arriving all the time, with Waterstons IT solutions business being the latest to sign up to a new base, investing heavily on a cool refit for its new base at Northumbria House.
Salvus House itself is racking up impressive occupancy rates, just 18 months after it was acquired in the first stage of the grand plans for Aykley Heads.