Joe Wilson, Interior Designer, explains how the transformation of a 1990s London office block has restored success and prosperity.

Amid the frantic predictions for the future of the commercial office sector, the most likely result is a sustained wave of refurbishment. Why? Because London – and many major regional centres – have a growing surplus of older, uninspiring office blocks. Often overlooked is the potential these buildings hold, waiting to be redeployed and rejuvenated. The time for repositioning and reuse is now.

The re-imagining of a 11,000 sq m office building in the historic heart of the City of London carefully reorients its offering to prospective tenants as a contemporary workplace environment. Designed to appeal to a variety of tenant types, it includes a range of forward-thinking features; an innovative structural glazing system, highly flexible office spaces with exposed services and impressive sustainability credentials. Referencing the nearby ruins of the London Wall, it has been rebranded as LDN:W.

The entrance area, once cramped, is now an impressive double-height reception, expanded to include a lobby and self-serve café.

A canopy with portals traverses from the corner of the street all around the building. The entrance area, once cramped, is now an impressive double-height reception, expanded to include a lobby and self-serve café. Materials take inspiration from the London Wall and Romanesque materials like concrete and timber, but with a distinctly contemporary, clean feel. Furniture is mid-century in style, with timeless designs from Carl Hansen and Knoll. Stained black and natural wood and ceramic timber-look flooring creates a warm, cohesive feel from the reception into the lobby co-working spaces, with bare concrete panels and wooden partitioning providing texture. A line of bronze metal runs through the space, sitting around the lifts, skirting and reception desk.

Initially the building services were on the roof – a giant building maintenance unit had the best views of London and the only people enjoying it were the window cleaners! We removed all services to create a bright green space, all too often absent from commercial property.

The award-winning lighting design focuses on form, function, and flexibility. The unique palette of black with black – with even more black throughout – meant that standard lighting could not be used. The design instead angles the light upwards to render the black finishes rich and dark in lustre by using contrast rather than light. Ceiling and wall finishes are carefully coordinated so that any area has at least one matt, warm pale material to act as a diffuse reflector to the rest of the space. The end result is a lit interior without glare or spill light to effect the dramatic quality of blackness. LDN:W takes contemporary workplace design to a new level of experience.

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