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Morgan Lovell delivers a hidden gem at Lotus Park

Split over three office buildings with adjoining communal gardens, Lotus Park sits on a sought-after spot on the River Thames. But with the increase in demand for flexible leases and plug-and-play workspaces, developer and landlord Legal & General felt it was time to make a change.

06/05/2021 5 min read

Lotus Park is a hidden gem in central Staines-upon-Thames, with over 47,000 sq ft of commercial space has been built across three office buildings, surrounded by communal gardens and outdoor landscaping. Morgan Lovell worked with Legal & General Investment Management to provide a Cat A fit-out at Lotus Park, along with engaging meeting spaces and coworking areas in the shared areas. The project redefines the quality a landlord can provide.

Morgan Lovell has completed a full CAT A refurbishment of 1 Lotus Park, which now provides 14,500 sq ft of office accommodation over two storeys. The bulk of the firm’s work in this building was on the ground floor, where first impressions are struck; it has remodelled the reception and fitted out a plug-and-play office, known as Legal & General’s The Capsule.

Before even entering the building, the stunning entrance deserves a little extra attention. Morgan Lovell made the most of the 8m high, pitched roof to extend the arrival experience upwards. The team designed and built a suspended ceiling with pendant lights hanging in the centre. This adds depth and layers to the overhead void, which is the perfect way to optimise a usually under-utilised space.

The Capsule concept combines the benefits of a traditional lease and a serviced office to provide a flexible rental, negotiated directly with the landlord. The workspace itself is fully furnished and ready for occupation. Morgan Lovell designed and built a modern and neutral open plan environment with meeting rooms and a kitchenette. Flooring, fittings, furniture and wiring for data and power are all taken care of. On day one, the only thing for incoming tenants to do is switch on the coffee machine!

Legal & General has gone over and above its responsibility as a landlord to offer an entire workspace experience at Lotus Park. Lotus 3 is perfectly positioned to take full advantage of its riverside location, with direct access to a garden that’s full of fun.

Here, Morgan Lovell built new pathways, installed a pétanque court and added a BBQ, patio furniture, branded deckchairs and a ping pong table. There’s even a flat, landscaped lawn for summertime yoga, picnics or BBQs.

If the gardens of 3 Lotus Park aren’t enough, Morgan Lovell also stripped the entire building and installed new flooring, suspended ceilings, wall coverings, glazing and services. The existing reception desk has been wrapped with a stylish concrete-printed vinyl to give it a new lease of life, and a coffee lounge and informal working area have been added to the ground floor. The space is now perfectly prepared for a CAT B refurbishment.

Adrian Norman, Head of Design at Morgan Lovell, tells us that the firm had already delivered the refurb of the Lotus 2 building the previous year, developing the existing concept by Spratley & Partners. ‘Being a very successful project, we were invited to competitively tender this project,’ Adrian recalls. ‘Due to very tight timescales of the pitch, we partnered again with Spratley’s for the concept of Lotus 1 while we focused internal resources on the amenities and Lotus 3 refurbishment.’

So what were the hopes and aspirations of the client here? ‘The client aspirations were two-fold,’ Adrian explains. ‘Firstly, Lotus 3 needed to let the available suites – by face-lifting the reception and making the most of the riverside location we aspired to raise it – and the park generally – above the competition. Lotus 1 was a different prospect; we had to transform the tired interior into something special and unique to Staines.

‘Lotus 1 was pretty tired. It still had the previous tenant fit-out in place, making it feel very un-remarkable, with its poor lighting, white square tile suspended ceilings and grubby carpets. The reception featured some awful artificial dark green stone wall tiling, coupled with an over-sized reception desk and an array of global clocks from yesteryear.’

Morgan Lovell initially worked collaboratively with Spratley’s up to the concept pitch stage (as one of four, Adam tentatively recalls). Upon securing the project Morgan Lovell took the development and detailed design in-house through to delivery with its build team. ‘Hollis was the appointed PM for L&G, and we had a comprehensive brief for each building from a technical standpoint, although aesthetically it was much looser.’

A key requirement was flexibility; the building needed to be able to be split by floor, and each floor into two. ‘With the possibility that the building would not be let to a single occupier, and would therefore need a dedicated receptionist, we created a more informal business lounge rather than traditional reception,’ Adam tells us. ‘Then, within the office space, we had to make things feel different. Our initial concepts worked around three ceiling features, ranging from fully exposed services and creative raft ceilings, to more conventional suspended ceilings. Thankfully the raft ceilings were the preferred option and are the standout feature of the building. The blend of floating rafts, plasterboard margins and flashes of exposed soffits and surfaces creates real interest. Creating parity between floors was a real challenge when working with the building’s 4m pitched roof above.’

The Capsule suite design also had to tie in with this base build concept – and the semi-industrial feel is conveyed with black framed Crittal glazed partitions, herringbone timber flooring and soft furniture.

‘Capsule is L&G’s occupier ready offer,’ Adam explains. ‘There isn’t a house style as such as each capsule sympathises with the building it’s in, although the common thread of modern design, quality finishes, materials and furnishings are consistent. The design is very much focused on the post-pandemic workplace; trying to make it a destination office offering high levels of collaboration settings, private booths, touchdown tables and desking. There are generous levels of soft seating and great breakout areas to entice tenants.’

What were the greatest challenges for the team? ‘Probably delivering this project through the pandemic – this was Morgan Lovell’s first order during Lockdown 1.0 and the site team and subbies did a fantastic job working with the new guidance for a COVID-safe site,’ Adrian reveals.

It’s time to let Adrian get on with his day job, but before we leave him be, we ask him about his own favourite element of the space.

‘I’m a sucker for details,’ he reveals, ‘and love the fluted ribbed oak panelling in reception against the contrasting black Vertigo pendant lights.’

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