AHR applies innovative biophilic design principles at The Spine building
For the northern home of The Royal College of Physicians, AHR Architects was tasked with creating a building that leaves its occupants healthier.
ARC Club’s second venue has opened: a stripped-back ‘Third Space’ ready for a new generation of hybrid workers who are hesitant to return to the office full time.
ARC Club is an accessible sanctuary. Occupying residential neighbourhoods, its fluid design embodies flexibility and autonomy; plugging in, with ease, to small-scale vacant commercial space equips it to become a high street staple of the remote work-enabled 15-minute city.
The main brief was to create three zones for workspace members focused on achieving a better work experience on their own terms: a public entrance and social cafe area, a collaborative area for group work, and a quiet area for focus. Because the site is open for events outside office hours, it was important to keep it as flexible as possible, which meant no static partitions or doors in-between the different zones. The 223 sq m commercial ground floor unit – which had stood vacant since its development three years ago – was fitted out in just seven weeks.
Working with a very tight budget inspired Co-founder and Creative Director Caro Lundin and her team to focus on the core needs of their workspace members – and to really think about the role that a neighbourhood workspace could play for them in the new work/city landscape. An essentialist approach, foregrounding light, comfort and surprise offers optimised experience at an accessible price.
“Being Swedish I’m very much in favour of the saying ‘good design and art should be available to everyone,’” says Caro. “Just because ARC Club is an affordable alternative doesn’t mean members should have to compromise on quality or design.”
Contrary to most pre-pandemic coworking design, resourcefulness is at the heart of the interiors. Nothing extraneous is added to the shell: the pipes were lagged in foil, the ceiling left exposed and raised flooring installed. Lilac flooring from Forbo and birch-lined cubes add warmth to what is, after all, a place of industry, and the team has been resourceful – taking on salvaged furniture, custom building some and adding a bit of vintage.
“There’s not much padding to the envelope but the branding and the essence of ARC can be found in the details – levers and tile work in our mustard yellow, birch lined architraves and earthy colourways,” adds Caro. “We are grateful to have been lent astonishing artworks by a critically-acclaimed gallery, Bosse & Baum, based locally in Peckham, which shares our belief in elevated inclusive aestheticism.”
Like the first venue in Homerton, there is a replicable custom-designed pod-style system. Here, the response was to design two cubes or ‘pods’ to house two meeting rooms, two storage rooms, a takeaway kitchen, six phone booths and a quiet work area. By placing the first cube parallel to the floor layout and the second one perpendicular, the space is naturally divided into the three areas.
“Each area is different, and the colours have been carefully selected to create a shifting atmosphere: a calming blue ceiling in the quiet area, custom-designed orange armchairs, playful maroon banquettes in the collaborative area, zingy yellow hues inside the phone booths, and a terracotta colour on the outside,” continues Caro. “A new way of work demands a new aesthetic!”
Photography: Andrew Meredith
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