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Fresh, timeless design at Link Group’s UK office

Hermantes Studio create a flexible and sustainable design for their client’s first globally branded UK workspace.

07/10/2020 4 min read

Link Group’s Northern Hub is a shining introduction to the Australian financial company’s global branding in the UK and European market. Completed to BREEAM Outstanding standard, the 72,000 sq ft space provides a variety of agile and collaborative workspace for its employees, with a fresh and self-assured aesthetic alongside state-of-the-art facilities.

Link’s Northern Hub office provides fully agile workspace for 850 flexible staff, creating 400 new skilled jobs for the region. This project brings together staff from three of its existing office sites into this buzzing hub at Central Square, Leeds. The workspace has flexibility and wellbeing at its heart, using simple, quality materials alongside refreshing details to create a variety of work settings and special places of interest for staff.

The design team at London’s Hermantes Studio looked at how Link projected their brand in Australia, taking the best features and ramping them up for their introduction the UK. ‘The office highlights Link’s brand identity and presence in line with their portfolio, which is already established throughout Australasia, but also pushes the Client’s boundaries just a little bit further. It is, after all, their own Northern Powerhouse!’ says Venessa Hermantes, Director at Hermantes Studio.

Whilst being both quality driven, yet cost conscious across all aspects of the build, the fit out offers an approachable, timeless environment: there are no current fads or gimmicks here, providing a longevity to the design which reflects the client’s branding.

The workspace is full of quality and sustainable materials that were an unexpected and refreshing approach for the client. From interlocking Bolon floor coverings and sustainable timber flooring throughout the reception and presentation suite, to recycled PET acoustic wall panelling and ceiling treatments, the space also features a large, quality furniture selection, providing the client with an enduring and flexible fit out.

‘The finance industry needs more than ever to be able to react and adapt to technology changes and its impact on how they do business. Business disruption is becoming a more frequent challenge and this is having an impact on the perception of how long a workspace will remain static,’ says Venessa. ‘This is calling for a preference for flexible, mobile, inter-changeable solutions that can be altered quickly, with low cost and low environmental impact. Spaces need to be able to remain agile, without significant cost or wasted resources and materials.’

‘Investing in this prime BREEAM Outstanding building in the first instance, Link has continued that theme to ensure their environmental impact is minimised – and has endeavoured to keep up the building’s high achievements through the specification of durable and sustainable materials & finishes.’

‘Our industry holds increasing levels of ‘fast & cheap’ design and it is our responsibility to reduce the impact on the environment and waste creation,’ adds Venessa.

As part of Link’s staff wellbeing agenda and the importance to the business in staff retention, Link listened to their staff’s needs and invested in an environment that provides a vast choice of work settings, and has ensured the relocation for staff has been a welcome opportunity. Good coffee, healthy fruit and great social spaces also helped with the transition!

Provision of electric sit-stand workstations for all staff was implemented and a large internal landscaping programme has been incorporated across the floors to ensure that employees feel valued and happy in the leafy new work environment.

‘Hermantes Studio are great believers that the most relevant and successful workplaces reflect and respond to what’s happening outside the office – including the economy, environment, family life and people’s health,’ says Venessa. ‘Understanding drivers of workplace change is key to innovation.’

The environment provides a backdrop for the variety and personality of the teams that inhabit the space. The co-location of multiple business teams & skill sets under one roof has been hugely beneficial in strengthening communication & business efficiency. Now in occupation, the large IT teams provide dynamism across the floorplate. Team collaboration and scrum spaces provide active zones across the floors and beautifully detailed Focus Rooms ensure staff requiring concentration maximise productivity.

Works carried out to an intense 16-week Programme, saw the installation of a feature staircase to provide essential connectivity for the business between floorplates, knocking through structural floor slabs in an occupied and fully operational building. Also, the complex installation of a new Gas Generator into a difficult location on a specialist gantry created necessary resilience for business operations.

Hermantes Studio worked in close collaboration with GroupGSA, Link’s long-term design partners in Australia at the front end, to ensure the Link vision was realised and their understated style was retained.

Link wanted to achieve the Holy Grail of the high staff density they required in an environment that both supported the business aspirations, yet ensured their workforce felt valued and enjoyed the current trends in agile workplace design and thinking.

‘The finished product has delivered a design and working environment that has surpassed the Client’s expectations by pushing their previous outlook on interior solutions – with the added bonus of being completed on time and within budget!’ adds Venessa.

‘From the wise Northern mouth of one of our friendly contractors: it looks mint!’

We think it does too.

Photography: Marek Sikora

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