Explore the latest projects from the UK’s commercial interiors industry, featuring the best of workspace, hospitality, living and public sectors.

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Buckley Gray Yeoman reworks Clerkenwell office building for Panagram

A 1980s office building in Clerkenwell has been brought back to life by Buckley Gray Yeoman, with playful interventions that bring colour and joy to the interior spaces.

24/08/2021 3 min read

The design is highly flexible, with movable furniture and curtains used throughout the floorplate to allow for new, impromptu meeting spaces to be created when required, resulting in a retro pop aesthetic that replaces the corporate look and feel of the building. Physical and metaphorical barriers are broken down to bring about a more convivial and lively set of workspaces, with a new vibrant reception space at its heart.

Designed for a prospective legal tenant, the design balances flexible and collaborative spaces with traditional meeting areas. Five informal breakout areas and a kitchen collaboration area exist alongside three private meetings rooms, four call rooms and a private office.

The design needed to balance the prestige and sincerity of the tenants’ legal profession with a progressive, open and collaborative office and a design that responded to the playful character of the building and the creative neighbourhood of Clerkenwell and London’s Barbican Estate – which sits opposite the building.

As a result, BGY has created a fully fitted-out office that demonstrates how colour and materials can be used to suggest zones of activity, such as a green kitchen sitting within the open plan setting and a breakout meeting room that is delicately enclosed by a yellow translucent curtain. Small meeting rooms are lined with felt to improve acoustics and create an intimate atmosphere inside.

Recycled PET acoustic panels in the meeting room and pods have multiple uses: They protect and enhance acoustics, are sustainable (being made from recycled plastic bottles) and can be used to pin-up material.

BGY also used Forbo’s green Marmoleum flooring – created from natural, renewable raw materials with no phthalates, plasticisers, or mineral oil – while the timber flooring supplied by Havwoods is FSC-approved. BGY retained the existing services, such as M&E equipment and track lighting, only adding minimal feature lighting, while the use of a planting scheme internally and on the rear terrace contributes to user health and wellbeing.

For the office floors, the design creates a light, vibrant and fresh space with a strong feeling of health and wellbeing within a contemporary landscaped environment. Bold colour blocking defines different spaces to meet, greet and relax, whilst natural wood finishes frame the meeting rooms. Curtains are placed throughout the office to create ‘acoustic zones’ that promote collaborative and flexible working patterns, complemented with bold and geometric furniture. Desks were intentionally kept as close as possible to the windows to maximise natural light, whilst shorter dwell areas, such as the kitchen, are placed in darker areas of the floorplate.

Visible through the glazed wall in reception, a dramatic grand timber staircase leads from the ground floor office space down to the garden level. The stair incorporates an impressive Ficus tree growing from its centre, and a series of extra-large steps that can be used either as a place to sit and relax or as an auditorium – creating a series of multi-use spaces that the occupants could adapt to their needs.

Colourful lifts continue the sense of playfulness as they transport people up through the building, while loos are given their own bright identities; huge sliding doors turn the WCs into a feature on each level. Colour is prevalent throughout the building, with the fresh air ductwork painted Parisian Pink and Duck Egg Blue on alternate office floors.

Wanting to appeal to a wide range of tenants and celebrate the building’s location, the design embraces a playful aesthetic that replaces replace the former corporate look and feel of the building.

‘We worked closely with the design team to break down metaphorical barriers to workplace design norms and bring about a more convivial and livelier workspace design,’ BGY tells us. ‘For example, our client wanted a reception space that challenged the existing status quo of dark, plain spaces where people pass through quickly. There is thus a bold interplay of the use of the ground floor – from inside and out – to create a multifunctional, ambiguous reception space. 75% of the building was let in December 2020 to a legal tenant, despite uncertainty in the office market. They responded to the building’s space, light and amenities that allow for workspaces to be bold, flexible and with a focus on health and wellbeing.’

This project is a finalist for Project of the Year, Workplace Interiors at the Mixology21 Awards.

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