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MCM explore digital innovation at the KPMG Ignition centre

MCM has created a Digital Innovation Centre for KMPG within their Canada Square HQ in Canary Wharf, designed to foster co-creation and collaboration between KPMG and their clients using versatile environments and a strong focus on technology.

10/08/2021 3 min read

KPMG’s Ignition centre is an impressive, digitally enabled workspace that invites collaboration and connection regardless of geographic limitations – a one-of-a-kind facility in the UK, it allows clients to explore new ideas, design, prototype, and build.

MCM and KPMG delved into the meaning of ‘Digital Innovation’ and the purpose of the space itself – thinking through both the physical space, connection with other spaces, culture, its operations and more. Out of this, the design drivers for the project were born; to be Disruptive not Conformist, Adaptable not Static, Function over Form not Form over Function, Surprising not Obvious, and Approachable not Intimidating. The final scheme centred on two key aspects – authenticity and purpose.

To ensure the authenticity of the space, MCM looked at the purpose of Ignition, focused on enabling its objectives, and to the building itself – focusing on honesty and purity in materials and design and making the most of what was existing within the building. The base palette of materials consisted of products in their most natural state, and those authentic to a modern office building: metal access floors, exposed concrete, bare plasterboard and plaster, natural fibres, naturally dyed flooring, and perforated metal.

‘We layered our secondary palettes to induce physical and emotional responses depending on their location,’ says MCM Design Director Deepak Parmar. ‘These included refreshment, restoration, growth, health, energy, communication, efficiency and creativity. It was essential that the design philosophy was followed throughout, down to every small detail. To complement the raw materials, we used exposed, but beautifully detailed joints and fixings. This meant extensive sessions with sub-contractors, using standard material and sheet sizes where possible to avoid waste.’

The current creative teams were based in standard open plan corporate workspaces that didn’t support their ways of working – or inspire creative and innovative projects. The Ignition centre provided a purpose built flexible and innovative space tailored to the exact requirements, allowing them to undertake all the relevant tasks in environments suited to that purpose. These included workshops, long term co-create spaces and showcase facilities, and the welcome space, lounge areas and meeting spaces are often opened to other users within the building to act as a showcase for staff and clients alike.

To avoid the use of adhesives and to minimise waste where possible we worked with the standard sheet sizes of products and these were all fixed mechanically rather than glued, and acoustic absorption was achieved using perforated materials rather than an acoustic foam base. The space was also designed with maximum future flexibility in mind, able to adapt to new uses in the future with no significant alterations.

As a space intended largely for clients it was paramount that the space had a real wow-factor. All spaces are designed for a specific experience. On arrival, the wall opposite the arrival lifts was transformed into one large video wall with movement sensors and sounds to fully immerse visitors, and a mirrored ceiling reflects the digital content, creating a further point of interest.

Elsewhere, the Innovation Lab is designed for 2/3-day intensive workshops. The base palette gives ideas centre stage in this fully adaptable space (both digitally and physically!) A grid with movable panels and a lighting system works in any formation, allowing the room to be set up in a myriad of formations quickly. Co Create spaces comprise of fixed working areas and flexible collaboration areas with interchangeable furniture and moveable cross walls, allowing a flexible space for 30-150 people.

‘The users are thrilled with the space and have ranked Canada Square’s innovation centre over other ‘Ignition’ spaces as by far the most comprehensive in terms of its spaces, its quality of design and its adherence to its purpose,’ adds Deepak. ‘While the COVID-19 pandemic has not allowed the space to be fully utilised, this space has already proven to be a world-class centre for collaborative digital transformation.’

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

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