Ian Ritchie Architects were commissioned to redefine the idea of the modern office and implement the ideas for two adjacent and interlocking Grade II listed buildings within the Westminster Conservation Area in Central London.
Designed by Oliver Hill in 1931 as a four storey block with basements it has Art Deco influences internally, and a central porte cochère.
The design ambition was to provide long life, accessible, and to create a zen-like calm interior incorporating high environmental performance with ‘secret’ and ‘silent’ services.
The prominent street elevations were lightly refurbished maintaining their 1930s form. A single entrance was formed with a glazed stainless steel door installed behind the heritage entrance gates. The awful 1980s additions to the rear were replaced with a triple-glazed internal court providing year-round amenity and focus and opens onto a new landscaped court.
The inspiration for the interior design came from the stainless steel line inlay in the travertine floor of one of the original dining rooms. Internally, using easily maintainable materials the calm feel is created by a flow of spaces framed by white walls and white lacquered joinery, and highlighted by shot-peened stainless steel skirting, railings and door frames glazed with clear, translucent or white glass. Colour is introduced using neuroscience ‘brainbow’ images in a Turkish hand woven carpet and in a custom printed interlayer within a strip of glass floor – a lumium – which invigorates the boardroom landing.
High performance multi-foil insulation is fitted within walls and roof along with double-glazed secondary windows that seamlessly match the existing. It was a considerable challenge to construct a compact and acoustic floor construction and to reinstate original levels while integrating an invisible chilled-ceiling system, air supply, power, ITC, and aspirating fire detection services. Ventilation outlets are incorporated behind stainless steel grilles or discreetly at shadow gaps within fitted furniture. A deep borehole provides cooled water. Switches, sensors and sounders are incorporated into single stainless steel shot-peened coverplates. All ironmongery, fixed and loose furniture and lighting has been designed by the architects, as well as a new high performance very low energy task light.
The project was completed on 23 June 2010.