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Scott Brownrigg design a new way of working for Chaucer Group

Designed during the pandemic, the scheme evolved to reflect a shift from traditional desk-based work to more flexible and collaborative ways of working.

01/10/2021 3 min read

Project Team

  • Client

    Chaucer Group

  • Interior Design

    Scott Brownrigg

  • Contractor

    Parkeray

  • Furniture Supplier

    Showcase Interiors

  • Flooring

    Milliken, Domus, Havwoods

  • Surfaces

    Kvadrat, Panbeton, CNC’d Corian

  • Ceilings

    SAS, Autex, Kvadrat

  • Glazed partitioning

    Radii

Scott Brownrigg’s interior design team has recently completed the fit-out of the impressive new headquarters for the Chaucer specialty (re)insurance group in the heart of the City of London.

Occupying 44,000 sq ft of office space, across three floors of The Scalpel on Lime Street, the new facility now accommodates over 450 employees and plays an important part of Chaucer’s development as a leading global underwriting group.

Scott Brownrigg’s Design Strategy Unit team undertook a detailed workplace strategy study to understand Chaucer’s requirements for the new facility. A bespoke Workstyle Profiler, alongside other Design Strategy Unit tools, was used to determine employees working patterns, user requirements and employee profiles. During the design phase a further study was undertaken to incorporate changes to working patterns as a result of the pandemic. Consequently, more spaces for collaboration, social interaction and training were added to the new working landscape.

The move coincided with Chaucer’s decision to rebrand, enabling them to roll out a new brand identity across the new working home.

‘The workplace strategy exercise conducted by our Design Strategy Unit helped us to define Chaucer’s brief,’ Scott Brownrigg Director, Beatriz Gonzalez, tells us. ‘Subsequently, the brief became fluid to accommodate changes encored during the COVID-19 pandemic. Collaboration, sustainability and flexibility remained at the centre of Chaucer’s brief.

Chaucer wanted to pay homage to their parent company, China Re Group, by incorporating Chinese architecture across the office. Beatriz explains that Scott Brownrigg proposed a unique design based on the Chinese Hutong concept and the British marketplace.

‘The spatial arrangement mimics the Hutong concept, with ‘streets’ convening in a central social area, such as the employee café. Incorporating a hospitality approach to the office design, the open plan space consists of a variety of micro working environments, each designed to encourage interaction and cater to individual needs.’

‘Incorporation of Chaucer’s culture into the new office was at the heart of the design, from implementation of their new branding to echoing Chaucer’s values of sustainability and wellbeing. The result is a well-curated environment that provides collaboration, communication and adaptability for Chaucer’s future working requirements. This is a new hub that staff can be proud of.’

We ask Beatriz about the greatest challenges for the team here at The Scalpel. ‘The main challenge was delivering the project during the pandemic,’ she recalls. ‘We took advantage of our in-house design tools to communicate the design to the client via virtual conference meetings. Walkthroughs, 3D visuals and interactive software were fundamental to obtain client sign offs.

‘The new office design supports Chaucer’s new flexible working patterns, adapted for the return to work after the COVID-19 pandemic and provides a hub for collaboration and communication.’

The three floors are linked by a central cantilever staircase, which provides an impressive focal point to each floor as well as enabling staff to easily travel around the office, supporting Chaucer’s collaborative culture. On level 6, Chaucer has included a large Brokers Lounge to provide a welcoming space for trading partners and clients as well as place for entertaining and events.

‘For the Scott Brownrigg team this marks the culmination of 18 months of work,’ Douaa Abdulhadi, Scott Brownrigg Senior Interior Designer, says. ‘From the early sketch plans, when we began to develop our ideas of how to best to respond to the dynamically shaped Scalpel building, maximising its potential and spectacular views, to the careful detailing of the laser cut maze wall that created the unique reception backdrop, this has been a journey of discovery with the Chaucer client and consultant team. Their delight with the result makes all of the challenges of delivering a building during the pandemic worthwhile, and we are excited to see the reactions of their staff and brokers to the new office.’

Great care has been taken to ensure that all internal finishes are high quality and sustainable. A cool palate of neutral colours and natural woods harmonises with tan vegan leather seating and recycled terrazzo glass worktops.

‘We worked within a tight budget – every design and product specification had to be considered carefully,’ Beatriz says. ‘Sustainability was at the centre of the design; we selected low impact materials with high-recycled content throughout.

Finally, we ask Beatriz to tell us about her favourite element of the new space. ‘The connecting staircase,’ she says. ‘This has transformed the way Chaucer works. It provides a link between the floors and allows collaboration and communication across all parts of the business. The areas adjacent to the staircase provide a central hub for the floors and it’s where real collaboration happens.’

 

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