We’re in the City of London to take a look at the new workspace of the Integro Group. Now, while researching our hosts for the day, we got a little trigger-happy with Google and opened a completely different site from the Group’s own and – totally accidentally – came across English translations for the word ‘Integro’.
The list of English words included: renew, renovate, refresh, integrate and replenish. We haven’t even looked at the Group’s site and already we have a really good, positive feeling about this project.
Integro (we eventually discover) is a global insurance brokerage and specialty risk management firm driven to deliver dedicated, quality benefits consulting and insurance brokerage services through client-first, transparent business practices.
Since 2005, the business has pioneered a unique approach to managing risk, beginning by taking the time to get to know its clients inside and out. It then deploys superior analytical methodologies to deliver the in-depth and timely information necessary to recommend the best programme design and coverage to fit clients’ specific needs.
Resonate were asked to bid on a 45,000 sq ft enquiry for Integro, who were relocating all existing offices and congregating under one roof, in the heart of the city at 71 Fenchurch Street – the classic Richard Rogers building.
The site is defined by existing buildings on two sides, including the Grade II listed 71 Fenchurch Street, constructed for Lloyd’s Register in 1901, which has now been extensively restored and incorporated into the new headquarters. The building has stepped up from six- to 14-storeys of office space and two basements, covering a total of 24,000 sq m.
Highly transparent glazing offers instant legibility and animates the building’s exterior as people use the ‘fully glazed’ wall-climber lifts and stairs. The glazed façade forms part of an integrated cooling and heating system, which enables the building to achieve a 33% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions compared with conventional air conditioning.
Integro occupies two floors here – the 1st and 2nd – so we head up to the new serene, elegant reception space to meet with Integro’s Martin Spencer and Resonate’s Pernille Stafford. Martin can tell us a little more about the business. ‘We’re a Lloyd’s insurance broker,’ he explains, ‘and have various different classes of business – ranging from racehorses and boats through to pop stars. We came from four different locations into this building. We now have 327 employees – and with agile working and expansion space we could get up to 400.
‘We did face some challenges with the shape of the building – which is somewhat irregular. It is a sort of letter ‘H’ with an extra arm!
‘This project first came about when Integro looked to bring those businesses together under this one roof,’ Pernille tells us as we head through the reception lounge space, towards the impressive meeting suite.
‘They were extremely keen to stay in this area – which is very much the heart of insurance broking – and they have clients and underwriters coming in and out of here all the
‘We wanted to try to do something really different for them here and to add a number of new elements and ways of working – for example, you’ll see that we’ve added lots of agile working areas throughout the space. This 2nd floor has the client meeting suite, but overall the two floors are quite similar, with plenty of open plan working on each.
‘For this reception area and meeting suite, we wanted to create an extremely professional, contemporary impression. We had a really tight budget, so the reception desk is faux marble or ceramic tile, for example – but the really big challenge was the chilled beams and concrete soffits, which cool the slab. When it came to sub-dividing this, it was really complicated. I’d say that, in terms of M&E, this was the most challenging job we’ve done as Resonate to date.
‘Confidentiality was also super important for them. It was vital that both clients and brokers could work here and not have to worry about privacy and confidentiality.’
The palette for the front of house facility consists of muted greys and purples in soft tones, with the reception lounge leading directly to the large meeting room suite. The backdrop to the reception is a carefully considered backlit logo wall, hiding coats and providing storage, with a long marble reception desk in front.
The client lounge houses a long stone bar to accommodate client functions and breakout facilities, including smart Verco booths, for the suite of meeting areas. The feature wall is a show-stopping mirrored tile panel, reflecting the finishes and colours around it. Manifestations to meeting rooms were carefully considered to add both design flair and also that necessary privacy. ‘We did debate about that tiled wall,’ Martin admits, ‘but actually I think it looks fantastic! This is the one side of the building that is not affected by the soffits so we could do a little more here – and it’s also the area where a lot of the technology spend went, bringing in new screens etc. We have had to update our technology overall and we’ve taken the jump from single screen to double screen on desks throughout the open plan areas, for example. Actually, we’ve been able to do that while reducing the footprint of each desk, thanks to smart new monitor arms.’
Resonate’s design brief was to provide a bright and contemporary working environment consisting of a complete open plan concept that in turn allows teams and staff to be agile and supported. The robustness of the base build, with those concrete chilled beams and strong glazed façades, was a huge inspiration for the design, Pernille tells us – while the interior adds to the palette with its bold use of yellows, blues and greens throughout. ‘They wanted to be sustainable,’ Pernille says. ‘They selected this building not only because of the location, but also what it offers in terms of energy reductions.’
As was mentioned a little earlier, the space needed to accommodate some 400 staff – who all have the same desking solutions – and also had to maximise storage space for a vast amount of insurance documents. To break up the dark, open floorplates, plants and bold colour were added wherever possible. The workspace is successfully disrupted by glazed meeting rooms, with bright pops of texture and colour, and furnished informally with smart Vitra DSR chairs.
As we walk through the open plan space, we ask Martin about the collaboration with Resonate. ‘We originally had a list of five firms – and we were simply looking for the firm who we felt would fit us,’ Martin recalls. ‘So we went with Resonate for the design – and also Parkeray for the fit-out. Resonate were a relatively small practice compared with the others and we felt that we would be important to them rather than just another tick in the box – and that’s exactly how it turned out to be. We’re quite conservative as a business and Resonate came up with some pretty whacky ideas! They listened to everything we said though and took everything on board. They were great to work with – as were Parkeray. They understood us.’
The communal breakout lounge in the heart of the first floor was deliberately located right at the centre of all the activity, providing seating for 100 people in a variety of settings. Beautiful, bespoke banquette seating in a dark teal velvet is paired with furniture in brighter colours to create a vibrant space away from the desk. Indeed, the furniture selection throughout – courtesy of Rainbow – is well considered, adding far more than just a place to sit or a flat surface to work at.
The bar counters, in a recycled sparkling stone, allow staff to gather and enjoy a brew. This is truly the ‘heart of the village’ type of space, where the newly formed Integro community can thrive and make new collaborations.
For this thriving office in the heart of insurance land, Resonate aimed to create an inclusive environment where the business will flourish and grow. We think they’ve most definitely succeeded, creating a home for Integro for years to come.