Forget about policemen looking younger or even football managers (never mind the players) actually being considerably younger, our new indicator that we’re getting longer in the tooth is when we realise that a ‘new’ building has already had its own nips and tucks.
Take 33 Holborn Street – which many of you will know as the Sainsbury’s building – as an example. It’s only a couple of years old isn’t it? Apparently not. PENSON’s Lucy Penson forgives us our senior moment and tells us that our age radar is some way off. ‘It’s actually quite an old and dated building now,’ she reveals. ‘Octopus Investments and Lightsource went through a full office makeover that has put the life back into working days and we have created yet another office that people will actually look forward to going to work in. We had to change the light and update all the M&E. When you look from the outside now you can clearly see the 6th and 7th floors because they are lit up the most with the new lighting systems.’
We ask about the origins of the project. ‘Octopus’ facilities manager had heard about PENSON and asked us to pitch alongside one other firm. They liked our visuals for 60,000 sq ft over two floors, and we had a very quick turnaround to complete the project.
“They also host several events which work well in this space, and they now have the option to spill out onto the terrace.”
‘Octopus and Lightsource were previously located at Old Bailey, but they had completely outgrown the space. Although they are a relatively young company, they needed to change the way they were working as well as the environment they were working in. As a workspace that thrives on welcoming clients in, Octopus and Lightsource needed a lively, flexible and entertaining space that would drive socializing and financial collaboration.’
Given creative control of both floors, the team had the challenge of creating a line of visual continuity whilst giving each floor a distinct style and artistic theme, using authentic features specific to Octopus and Lightsource. PENSON has based the design around a welcoming and unique working environment that would ooze character and has kept everything running smoothly in busy communal areas.
Octopus and Lightsource wanted their clients to pop in, if passing by, so the HQ is very much a home from home for everyone.
‘Octopus work in an open plan office, with a large entertainment area at the entrance so that any of their companies can come in and use the business lounge and the facilities,’ Lucy continues. ‘They also host several events which work well in this space, and they now have the option to spill out onto the terrace.’
There are many facilities and hideaways, with booths for one-to-one meetings or padded rooms for a private conversation. The HQ is shrewdly designed to make the most of the office space and in doing so enhances functionality.
To ease communication and promote flexible working, PENSON has introduced a variety of informal meeting areas including a coffee bar and Pick‘n’Mix stand at the heart of the client hub. Here clients and partners can meet for a quick chat over a cup of tea or grab a few fizzy cola bottles to get themselves through the last hour of the day.
Octopus wanted a bright, open feel. Walk out on the 6th floor and you will find an area dedicated to one mysterious creature in particular – the octopus. The reoccurring theme of its arms in manifestations and other décor elements add a stamp of PENSON authenticity as well as reinforcing Octopus’ brand image without being too exuberant.
In the old office, we’re told, there was a lot of octopus paraphernalia, but now they’ve just got the one modest – and rather cool – bronze octopus at the front.
Walk out onto the 7th floor and the living wall behind the reception desk of Lightsource fantastically blurs the line between indoors and outdoors. With many different types of plants, PENSON ensured that key elements of Lightsource ethos, such as sustainability and appreciation of nature, are visible the moment you walk in.
“Lightsource really wanted the space to tie in to what they do – hence the living wall and the green, environmental elements.”
‘Lightsource really wanted the space to tie in to what they do – hence the living wall and the green, environmental elements,’ Lucy point out. ‘As this floor might change in the future, it did need to have a great deal of flexibility. Lightsource did, of course, want a smart, stylish reception space – which I think we achieved. I must say that the client didn’t over complicate things for us. It was a really nice design process – although it was also very quick!’
‘Both companies were open and forward-thinking. This is an extremely different look, feel and style from their previous building. The HQ is not fussy, clutter or gimmicky. It’s clean, crisp and modest. Some companies take a long, long time to go through that process of change management – but they were very open and very cool.’
As are their new homes.