We’ve been lucky enough to see a few forward-thinking serviced offices over the years.
Add a certain multi-Mixology award winning design firm into the ‘mix’ – and we become journalistic meerkats.
So when serviced office provider Co-Work recently opened the doors of its highly anticipated, rejuvenated space in Borough – the second project designed for them by PENSON – we got up on our hind legs and craned our necks.
Co-Work founders and owners Matt Guild and Tom Kuhn originally came from corporate backgrounds; Matt worked in Marketing and Product Development at Red Bull and Tom in banking. They had worked in vibrant, energetic surroundings and felt that this resulted in a high level of productivity.
Upon leaving corporate marketing, the pair found that available office space was uninspired, offering unproductive rooms, and little to no flexibility for expansion or downsizing whilst in leased offices.
They started looking at new options and soon decided to create their own space – a single floor space in Putney with 45 workstations. This was to be, of course, the beginning of Co-Work.
Matt and Tom originally set out to create a place they would like to work in – indeed every Co-Work decision is based on their own requirements and experiences of working in a leased office space, as Matt explains. ‘The bottom line when it comes to all decisions made with regards to the features of the space is ‘Do we want it?’
‘Space is offered on monthly rolling contracts, with free access to a selection of imaginative meeting rooms, Co-work intranet, free coffee, beer and much more.
The idea of being able to work for yourself whilst being in an environment similar to that of larger corporations is key. People from a wide range of industries, including IT, accountants, lawyers and architects currently take space within our offices and meet in the communal areas, allowing for a friendly, less intense form of networking to take place on a daily basis.’
Matt and Tom first came across PENSON after seeing Google featured in the press, and they immediately liked what they saw. They then approached PENSON with a rough space plan – but, as we are now all too aware, were open to design ideas.
Following on from its impressive work at the Angel offices, which led to a rolling contract to design all of Co-Work’s future properties, PENSON was given creative control of three separate floors, right in the heart of Borough High Street.
The design was created using the same open brief as the previous property: ensuring the space was sleek, modern and anything but boring – as if boring is a word that’s even in PENSON’s vocabulary!
At first glance a number of themes that have been carried through from the initial design for Co-Work Angel jump out at you – such as the black patterns on the glass conference room walls and the acoustic busting private call rooms with that leather chair.
The recurring themes add a stamp of PENSON authenticity as well as creating a line of continuity that running through the projects, successfully producing a faint ring of déjà vu while being subtle enough to allow the Borough project to posses it’s own sense of originality.
A strong futuristic atmosphere is present throughout the entire space – not least through the metallic cinema room, the sparkling floor finish, the textured neon walls of the call pods, and the sprawling gold and cream corridors which come complete with artwork and angles that look like they’ve stepped straight out of Star Trek.
Cleverly, PENSON has used the discovery of an exposed brick tile ceiling to their advantage, adding industrial lighting to create a warehouse edge within a design that could easily have become overly slick. Additionally, they’ve avoided making the space too cold or clinical by adding colourful fabric sofas and filling the building’s entrance halls with quirky welcoming genuine vintage cinema seats.
Of course, the team hasn’t forgotten that, above all else, the space needs to be functional.
A huge amount of calm desk areas allow for maximum concentration and productivity for Co-Work’s clients.
Incidentally, the desks here are 700mm as opposed to the standard 800mm spec, saving a not inconsiderable amount of space throughout the building.
The facility here at Borough began with just one floor at the top of the building, and consisted of 40 workstations, a private office area, a kitchen/breakout area and a call pod.
‘That has now expanded to the entire building, comprising 145 workstations, private offices spaces, six meeting rooms of varied sizes, large central kitchen and breakout area and three call pods,’ Matt tells us. ‘The decision to have kitchen/breakout area on the second of the three floors was to allow the idea of ‘Co-Working’ – the thinking being that an individual kitchen area on each floor would not allow for the same open environment.’
The meeting rooms include TV’s and the latest presentation facilities, while the Cinema room features JAB embossed silver wallpaper and chairs by A Modern World. The cool reception area is adorned with old cinema seats and a TV for waiting guests.
There is a subtle theme throughout the space, with little nods towards Borough Market to be found across the three floors.
When the ceiling was stripped, PENSON discovered old terracotta tiles underneath, which have now been painted white and combined with a splash of red exposed wiring to add to that market theme, while Co-Work branding continues out into hallway and stairs, and onto simple black graphics on walls.
The Call Pods provide privacy for phone calls, with cut foam (egg crate) walls providing acoustic barriers. The pods also feature chairs by A Modern World, apart from the top floor, which features an original call pod, complete with egg chair, but with no foam on the walls.
Indeed, there are a number of impressive functional aspects about the Borough space. The intercom is linked to mobile phones, eliminating the need for a receptionist or sign-in sheet. Intercom calls go directly to each company, allowing them to manage their own visitor process.
A small adhesive access card (which can be stuck to mobile phones) also allows entrance to lifts and can also be used to open your own desk storage unit.
Creativity flows throughout this design and it would be hard to imagine working in the space every day without being inspired – especially when there’s the reflective hallway with its zigzag flooring which will keep your eyes wandering for miles – in fact, all the way to PENSON’s next Co-Work project, which, we understand, could well be heading our way very soon. We’ve watched that space and you’ll have to watch this!