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Neil Usher: Paradoxically Speaking

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The Office Group offer a sense of discovery at their latest flexible workspace

TOG has collaborated with Note Design Studio to create a workspace full of surprises and the unpredictable throughout – for what they call a ‘gentle punch’ to all who step in off the street.

01/02/2021 3 min read

The Office Group has collaborated with Note Design Studio to imagine how the workspace of the future looks in their reinvention of Douglas House, a new six-floor office building on Great Titchfield Street.

Setting out to create a stimulating work environment to inspire productivity in its users as they work and move through the building, TOG strived to fill every inch of Douglas House with personality. The design teams wanted to create a workspace that surprises from the moment of entry, with touches of the unpredictable throughout to offer what they call a ‘gentle punch’ to all who step in off the street

‘We wanted to create somewhere that suited a variety of workspace styles, that broke with the conformity often associated with the office, and which conveyed a sense of journey and discovery,’ says Nasim Koerting, TOG’s Head of Design.

Douglas House is a 47,000 sq ft building at 131–151 Great Titchfield Street on the Langham Estate in the West End. The most striking feature of the design is a curvilinear wall of glass blocks that runs the entire length of the ground floor. As well as creating a physical passage between the rooms at the rear, the wall also connects them visually, with the material intensity and unexpectedly fluid wavy forms echoed in the custom-made lighting rafts.

The glass wall also delineates the interior colour palette, with warm woody neutrals and desert shades defining the communal spaces and break-out areas, and cooler blues throughout the meeting and working areas where concentration is required. Bold pops of primary colour cut through the neutrals, with ultramarine Marenco armchairs and Arflex sofas, Muller van Severen hanging lamps and powder-coated stools in red and blue.

‘There are some fundamentals that we have to address as priorities with every building; these principally being natural light, volume and openness,’ comments Charlie Green, cofounder of TOG. ‘The architecture and fabric of this building provided us with these attributes in abundance, which we then enhanced through elements such as the feature glass wall.  It is so striking and runs the full length of the ground floor, allowing natural light to flood both into the reception area and lounges, and back through to the meeting rooms.’

‘Douglas House has a lot more expression than you normally see in a traditional office’, adds Charlotte Ackemar, Interior Architect at Note. ‘Our ambition has been to make something that communicates intuitively, so that when you enter the space, you can feel the interior almost physically.’

Alongside the expected features of a modern workplace – gym, roof terrace and 20 meeting rooms which comprise 10 informal, collaborative spaces and a traditional boardroom – Douglas House also includes a number of more innovative, mindful additions. It features a ‘recharge room’ for breakout moments during the working day, a plant-filled ‘oxygen room’ on the top floor in which to reset and reconnect with nature, a flexible workspace with a café, and a dedicated room for nursing mothers.

Douglas House is now occupied by the venturing, digital and mobility futures teams of a global energy provider, embracing the need for flexible and agile ways of working that a progressively designed workspace can offer. The building provides 700 desks for the team of over 1,000 employees, and the versatility of the space has made it relatively easy to render the office Covid-secure.

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