For their second project for an Australian financial services group, align was briefed to design 13,745 sq ft of new working, meeting, presentation and break-out space across 1.5 stories at their client's City of London offices in order to meet a period of sustained growth and house three divisions of the company, totaling around 150-170 people.
align had previously worked on an office interiors scheme in Reading for the same client, before being instructed to create this new Cat A and Cat B scheme, where the brief was to include integrated, but differentiated, zones that worked within the overall building environment with a pronounced accent on biophilia, agile working and staff wellbeing.
The scope of work mostly covered the building's 8th floor, where general workspaces are located, along with a staff kitchen/pantry; a large presentation and townhall space (which can also be used for other purposes, eg yoga classes); five meeting rooms and a large breakout area with an indoor-outdoor feel ('The Terrace'). The multi-use presentation area was deemed particularly important to the success of the project and is able to be combined with The Terrace area, with a folding wall between the two, in order to allow large-scale events to be held there. The scheme also encompassed a number of private working booths, as well as a more relaxed work/meeting area on the storey above, on the building's 9th floor.
"The 8th floor space really was a blank canvas when we took the project on, in spite of most of the building having been fitted out for several years already," Gurvinder Khurana, align Director and Co-founder, commented. "The spaces were effectively concrete shells and so could be designed to serve the required functions perfectly."
The existing building has a strong statement core, including a red feature staircase created by the scheme's original architects. This new design project needed to acknowledge and talk to this dominant feature. This was achieved via the occasional and well-judged uses of red throughout - from red lines, for example, within a grey carpet from Shaws Carpets used in corridor areas, that also echo the staircase's angled geometry, with Fegerhold lights directly above further matching the carpet insert angle.
A striking red feature was also used on the building's 9th floor, in the form of a rectangular feature wall area, which is clad in individual, red Muratto tiles in 3D off-centre pyramid shapes, angled once again to mimic the stair. This idea is continued along a narrow galleried seating area on the same floor, where the tiles this time are arranged as wall art in a series of alternating 4 or 6-tile portrait-format rectangles, accompanying a 6-person meeting space.