Posts by Author: n New Projects information at DesignCurialn

Tunnel of Memory – Holocaust Exhibition Steyr, Austria

How were you commissioned?

Experienced in the design of exhibitions with a holocaust theme I was contacted by the client to make a proposition on how an exhibition could be installed in this very difficult space. This first design concept should also show the disposition of the themes, as well as the structure of the exhibition.

Tunnel1

What was the brief from the client and how much were they involved?

The client was a local voluntary association that looks after a concentration camp memorial and a Jewish cemetery. The association had collected material for more than ten years and wanted above all to present the perspective of former inmates. The materials had been donated or researched by members of the association in a non-systematic, often casual way. I proposed calling in external researchers to assist and to help to structure the themes. The client accepted and was involved in the process of developing the themes. The external curators emphasised structural context and proposed shifts in focus. "Social engineering" was an important aspect that had to be covered by my office.

Tunnels3

How did the brief affect the materials and design choices?

Exhibitions about the Holocaust have a highly asymmetrical collection of objects. For the most part it is documents coming from the perpetrators that have survived. Some essential facts can often be reconstructed only through eye witness accounts. Many designers attempt to compensate for these interruptions by "dramatising" exhibits, For me, paucity is part of the design concept: the squalid, makeshift, improvised and precarious also need to be shown. The structures are often made of unfinished materials or, in the case of purpose-built items, commonplace ones. The objects that can be exhibited, mostly reproductions, form a "material" layer of their own, offering visual focuses and connections independently of the extensive and usually bilingual texts.

Tunnels2

How did your previous experience help you with this project?

In my designs, I try to avoid the totality of an exclusive exhibition narrative in favour of the juxtaposition of various narrative fragments. I often design rooms with visual overlaps between exhibits from different thematic areas or with a connection to the outside world. A second point is the approach to the objects themselves. They are easier to read when they are grouped or placed in a series, thus giving more space and scope to highlight individual objects. Rooms with lots of objects to study place a strain on visitors, while insights and overviews provide security and allow individual access. In the permanent exhibition in Gusen for example, an earlier project of my office with an holocaust theme, written documents are presented horizontally. As visitors enter the exhibition room, they are confronted initially by a small number of medium- and large-size photos serving as signposts for the individual thematic sections. The "problematic" closing sequence, which shows executions and piles of corpses, is hidden by a partition in the form of a blown-up photograph printed on textiles. The details behind the horizontally arranged documents are discovered only on closer inspection. In spite of the large number of objects and texts, the exhibition nevertheless appears expansive and airy.

Can you explain the layout of the project

The 140 m U-shaped underground tunnel system, built from 1943 onwards, receives the visitors with an installation of light. The entrance area and centre of the exhibition are highlighted by means of illuminated element. A tubular system with attached glass and sheet steel surfaces connects the illuminated stations. The core themes, covering the time from the establishment of the concentration camp until liberation in 1945, form a connected inner tour in the former shelter area. The former airlocks and the two side tunnels, two "dead ends", are sections in their own right dedicated to particular themes. New designed steel perforated metal portals framed in new exposed concrete surrounds make the tunnel profile visible from outside. A light, fine-grained floor covering is used throughout the system.

Tunnel4

What problems or challenges did you face?

Difficult geological and thermal conditions of the building, presenting high humidity and the porosity of the natural grown stone. The floor had to be lowered, electrical installation brought into the building, protection against the floods of nearby Steyr-river.

Tunnel5

What do you feel were the most unusual design elements of the project?

The exhibition architecture attempts through the creation of defined spaces - through breaks, empty areas and interruptions to the flow - to create "windows of perception" for the particular spatial and sensory qualities of the underground structure. It divides the tunnel system into contrasting sequences: rhythmically structured paths suggesting movement, more static and contemplative sections, and short "meditative" passages that invite the visitor to stop and think. The tunnel is seen as a dark cave-like space. The light brought in from the outside 'peels' zones out of the darkness, in which the exhibition is presented. The light intensity varies during the visit. The subdued diffuse light of the 'empty stretches', which is just bright enough for the route to be seen, becomes more intense in the stations. Inside the tunnel system the light withdraws into the exhibition installations, turning them into illuminated islands standing out against the darkness.

Tunnel6

How do you think this project is pushing design forward? What makes it special?

The three-dimensional design of the illuminated elements with set¬-back parts and recessed niches permits a "layered" perception with various levels containing the very diverse and concentrated pictures and documents, accounts and commentaries. When approaching the stations the impression is given of a wealth of pictures and documents or a series of texts that appear to stand out from the other exhibition documentation.

Credits

Tunnel of Memory - Permanent exhibition

Location: Steyr, Austria

Architecture and Design: Bernhard Denkinger

Photographs: Andreas Buchberger

 

Pacific Beach House

How were you commissioned?:

In 2011, a family approached our firm asking for a "seriously cool" beach house.

Beach House

What was the brief from the client and how much were they involved?:

The brief from the client was for an exciting house, which took advantage of the widespread panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean, and the breezes and natural conditions of the site. The client was extensively involved throughout the design and construction of the house. The brief resulted in a house split into two pavilions, linked by a deck which expands and fans out to the view. The first pavilion contains the living spaces, kitchen, family bathroom and bedrooms, with a casual living area at the lower level adjacent to the small plunge pool. A hidden door into the second pavilion reveals the master bedroom suite, which sits among the treetops, overlooking the swimming pool and northerly view. The main living area is light and spacious, contrasting with the modest scale of the bedrooms.

Pacific Beach House

How did the brief affect the materials and design choices?:

Key to the design is the idea of the family being together in these living spaces, entertaining and relaxing with family and friends. From the main living area, a large expanse of stacking glass paneled doors slide away to seamlessly connect the indoors with the outdoor deck. This idea of indoor/outdoor connectivity is key throughout. The house is located at Palm Beach, Sydney, where houses were traditionally painted with black sump oil to protect the buildings against termites. This house is a modern interpretation, being clad in black burnt timber, charred using the traditional Japanese Yaki-Sugi method. Treating the boards in this way seasons and helps protect the otherwise vulnerable wood. The timber acquires a unique charred texture, not dissimilar to the patternation of crocodile skin. Weathered steel sheeting was also used on the lower level of the house, which creates a warm and vibrant orange-red. The palette of colours used for the house, from the oranges to the reds, browns and blacks, resonates with the Australian landscape.

Pacific Beach House

How did your previous experience help you with this project?:

Casey Brown Architecture are a small studio in Sydney, Australia devoted to creating a contemporary architecture through an organic understanding of building in direct response to climate, topography and lifestyle. This perspective creates a preference for lasting architecture of unpretentious functionalism using natural materials and expressed structure.

Pacific beach house

Can you explain the layout of the project:

An existing weatherboard cottage on the site created an exciting siting opportunity. Rather than locating the new house at the lower point of the site, it breaks the pattern of the street, sitting high and away from any neighbours, giving a strong sense of privacy and retreat.The main living areas of the house soar out towards the panoramic water views, giving the house a dynamic and striking appearance. Large expanses of glass to the north capture the spectacular views to the Pacific Ocean, Palm Beach and the Barrenjoey Light House.

Pacific Beach House

What problems or challenges did you face?:

Creating the burnt timber cladding presented the builder with a unique challenge, as it is a relatively untried technique in Australia, and particularly by using the traditional method. The process is quick, dramatic and requires precise timing. Cleaning the timber with a wire brush after it was burnt resulted in the builder looking like a coal miner!

Pacific Beach House

What do you feel were the most unusual design elements of the project?:

The Yaki-Sugi timber, the use of weathered steel and the positioning of the house cantilevering out from the site are all highly unique to this house.

Pacific Beach House

How do you think this project is pushing design forward? What makes it special?:

This project represents a dramatic new family beach house with many unique features, from the overall layout, to the relationship to the site, to the use of materials. One of the most special moments in the house is arriving via the steep path and sandstone steps, which take you upon arrival underneath the dramatic cantilever of the living space. This luminescent space glows with the rich reds, oranges and browns of the weathered steel. A single Y-shaped column, delicately formed and tapered supports the house above.

Pacific Beach House

Suppliers:

Furniture: Jardin Furniture, Corporate Culture

Flooring: Tongue and Groove Flooring

Timber windows & doors: Woodhill Joinery

Lighting: Artemide, Tovo Lighting

 

New looks for political parties

Blueprint

As we're sure you are well aware, the UK goes to the polls this coming May, and that's something we just couldn't ignore. In countries with a low level of literacy, the ballot paper often involves the use of symbols, sometimes quite mundane, that represent a political party in an apposite way. So we decided to create a ballot paper with six of the real candidates standing for the Thanet South seat and then asked some of the UK's leading design consultancies to come up with a graphic representation for each party.

Political Parties.

 

GSMA HQ, London, by The Interiors Group

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Project Info

Client: GSMA

Fit out: The Interiors Group

Designer: Engine Room Design

Size: 4,180 sq m

Cost: Not disclosed

Duration: 16 weeks


Words by Emily Martin

An Organization representing the interests of mobile phone operators worldwide has relocated its London HQ to the second floor of the Foster + Partners-designed Walbrook Building. The design and fit-out for the GSMA by The Interiors Group, together with architecture and design group Engine Room Design, embodies a sleek and flexible space, while also serving as a cost-effective example of the use of interactive technology and integrated IT infrastructure within the workplace.

The previous offices of the GSMA (Groupe Speciale Mobile Association) displayed a more 'corporate' layout, with bench desking throughout; this time around it was seeking something different, handing the design brief to The Interiors Group and Engine Room Design and requesting a 'marketplace' for employees and visitors in order to unite and engage in a 'creative enterprise'. One challenging element of the brief was housing, in addition to the company's 200 staff, the frequent international visitors and clients, requiring a space designed to accommodate up to 600 people.

Moveable arched partitions can be pushed together to create a separate unit within the main office.
Moveable arched partitions can be pushed together to create a separate unit within the main office.

The resulting design scheme incorporates flexible workspace elements, including a cleverly designed 'piazza', accessed via the reception. This area suits a variety of individual and group requirements through its mix of soft seating. Featuring individual lounge chairs, standing-height benches with perching stools, high-back sofas and fixed banquette seating, the piazza is multifunctional - visitors can wait in this space, small groups can meet for general discussion, and it can be used as an informal meeting space.

'In our opinion the best design feature of the scheme is the piazza, which in this case is a mix of both reception and town hall area,' says Andy Black, CEO of The Interiors Group. 'It unquestionably has one of the greatest wow factors of any project we have been involved in or had the pleasure of visiting.'

Near the entrance is the striking reception, which faces open bookcases sited either side of the entrance door. Linear and symmetrical lines in the reception area create a futuristic feel as visitors are met with the striking contrast of a bold red against white walls.

Flanking the entrance are six, two-person conference booths, each with a 'lid' with acoustic properties. A red light beam comes on automatically and is projected on to the ceiling above the booth, signifying that it is occupied - one of the many useful integrated IT features included in the fit-out.

A bookcase sits in front of a self-contained conference booth
A bookcase sits in front of a self-contained conference booth

The spacious office floor has been planned with 'built-in flexibility' to help reduce the monotony of day-to-day office life. All booths, pods, meeting and conference rooms - even desks - have been fitted with intelligent prebooking systems, which allows employees and visitors to schedule meetings from any part of the world via their mobile device.

In total, 15 types of meeting facilities are available, including individual 'thinking' rooms, breakout areas for informal meetings, two-person conference booths, meeting pods, group meeting rooms and standing-height desks. The largest conference room is divided into four separate rooms for daily use, though they can quickly be converted via the bi-folding walls into the larger conference space. In addition the room houses a smart, interactive AV system, which automatically directs sound output from front and back speakers when the space is back to being a single room.

And being a lively office new acoustic wall panels and glass partitions have been installed help create an 'acoustic haven'. Acoustic feature lighting is set over meeting tables, controlling noise output when groups gather for informal discussions. High-back breakout sofas in various locations and desk screens also help control sound levels.

The glazed partitions of a conference room are vehicles for graphics
The glazed partitions of a conference room are vehicles for graphics

Additionally, there are arched overhead partitions set over a selection of workbenches. Set on runners, the sliding partitions can be arranged individually or closed up together to form a 'tunnel', thereby creating a separate space within the main office floor.

In the tunnel form, they are designed to absorb sound and diffuse it.

And with vinyl graphics applied to many of the meeting room's glass partitions, the resulting design scheme is not only visually stimulating and representative of a modern technology company, but is also a platform for the GSMA to implement its strategy for new working methods: agility and team working. Patricia Bessey, Engine Room Design founder and director comments: 'Our goal was to create an inspirational space that draws on advanced technological cues from within the mobile industry and build an exciting, vibrant workplace for GSMA staff. Based on the feedback that we've received from the GSMA, I'd say that we hit the mark.'

Andy Black comments: 'Engine Room's ability to create such a flexible design scheme to facilitate the working requirements of the GSMA has absolutely blown us away. The design truly has the principles of agile working at its core, meeting the needs of every different type of working practices that the GSMA requires.'

Suppliers

Furniture:
Herman Miller

Flooring:
Milliken
Chroma

Acoustic paneling:
Abstracta

Lighting:
Vibia

 

Yum! by John Robertson Architects

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Project Info:

Client: Yum!
Architect: John Robertson Architects
Size: 3,000 sq m
Cost: £۲,۷۸۲,۵۰۰
Duration: 14 months


Words by Emily Martin

John Robertson Architects (JRA) has designed an engaging open-plan office in Orion Gate, Woking, for Yum! - the restaurant company behind major food brands KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell. JRA has designed Yum's new HQ as part of a move to new premises, accommodating the company's growing workforce with 'staff well-being and recognition' listed as key drivers for design scheme.

Yum! wanted a design scheme that, with its creative challenges, 'wholeheartedly embraced the corporation's ethos in an exciting and playful way,' says Festus Moffat, director of John Robertson Architects. 'The budget was extremely limited for a scheme of this size. We had to work hard to value engineer each and every element of the design to get maximum design impact and functionality from the space.'

Reception space on the fifth floor
Reception space on the fifth floor

Providing Yum! with a relaxed and stylish space to communicate the company's 3,000 sq m UK headquarters as being an engaging work culture, JRA delivered a design scheme that provides a variety of working environments to encourage employees to work as a team.

'We spent a lot of time with Yum! developing a brand for its offices that is expressed through a lively, engaging approach to a variety of spaces for work,' says Moffat.

A bank of sensory tasting booths.
A bank of sensory tasting booths

Other key requirements included a 'homefrom- home' feel and an office space that promoted a 'fun, friendly culture'. Communal spaces that would enable staff to interact more effectively were another requirement, as was improved employee catering facilities. 'The result is a comfortable and colourful space that gives workers room to match the most productive way of working to the task at hand,' says Moffat with the offices also featuring a number of unique spaces tailored to the needs of a restaurant company, including test kitchens and a sensory tasting room.

Additionally the scheme benefits from the 'Barista' restaurant and cafe: the communal centre point of the office with a huge surrounding terrace, bringing 'everyone together' - staff and visitors alike.

A breakfast-style bar features in a central hub, providing informal meeting spaces, kitchen facilities and lockers.
A breakfast-style bar features in a central hub, providing informal meeting spaces, kitchen facilities and lockers

Occupying the ground, third, fourth and fifth floors of its building in central Woking, JRA created an entrance sequence that takes visitors straight from the initial ground-floor reception to the fifth-floor reception, where they are welcomed into the fully serviced cafe, its terrace views over the beautiful surrounding countryside and a 'recognition wall' displaying photos of team members.

On the ground floor JRA placed the company's public-facing facilities, which includes a large test kitchen and conference suite. The suite can be subdivided with sliding partitions to create meeting or presentation rooms of different sizes that can be used to host events, group training and testing out new recipes before being introduced to restaurant menus.

One of the 27 meeting rooms provided. Their walls and glazing carry graphics designed by JRA
One of the 27 meeting rooms provided. Their walls and glazing carry graphics designed by JRA

Offices are situated on all floors and organised around central 'hub' areas, which feature a raised breakfast bar to provide a focal point for informal team meetings. The bar sits next to an enclosed area containing the printers for each floor, a well-equipped employee kitchen, coat hooks and lockers for personal belongings.

JRA has also created a lively floor pattern by introducing green grass-effect carpet tiles in the hub areas to signal a change to informality from the open-plan desk seating area that surrounds the hubs. The pattern merges the green carpet tiles into the grey herringbone of the rest of the office floor. 'The colour palette is hugely important to the success of the scheme,' says Moffat, with JRA also featuring large-scale graphic backdrops depicting nature and crops that project a 'feed the world' notion. 'The bold colours in these graphics have been enhanced, while retaining an organic colour palette, which have then been used to guide the office colour scheme and utilise muted tones,' he says.

Meeting rooms surround the open-plan office floors, and the meeting rooms' walls and glazed partitions provide the canvas for large-scale decorative graphics, designed by JRA. These complement the bright colour palette, warm natural materials, stylish light fittings and eclectic mix of classic furniture pieces to create a space with a strongly homely character.

Furnished with large armchairs and beanbags, library space on the fourth floor provides a quiet room for personal thought and informal working. A games room provides space for socialising, while two of the meeting rooms double up as studios for exercise classes provided for employees.

'The project is a reflection of the company. A symbol of optimism and ambition, it celebrates its unique culture and harnesses the enterprising spirit of the brand,' says Moffat.

Suppliers

Furniture:
Herman Miller
Vitra

Lighting:
Tom Dixon
Daniel Schofield

Flooring:
Interface
Reeve

 

Bernhard Denkinger Architekt

How were you commissioned?:

I have been working several times, over a period of 24 years, for this client, on several projects

Bernhard Denkinger

What was the brief from the client and how much were they involved?:

Integration of a wide range of existing showcases in the architectural design. Only few light (30 LUX) admitted for objects dating from 800 AC. Two "fields" of objects of equal importance: Archeological objects illustrating everyday life and precious objects of early medieval sacral art (also first handwritten documents of the region).

Bernhard Denkinger

How did the brief affect the materials and design choices?:

Facing very restrictive lighting conditions I tried to create areas of light close to the objects. The archeological objects are embracing the objets of sacral art that are placed in the centre of the space.

Bernhard Denkinger

How did your previous experience help you with this project?:

Placing nothing but open books in the centre of a wide space was a decision motivated by my conviction that the intellectually most important objects had to form the center of the exhibition in spite of the fact that they can only be shown with very few light, are small objects and are demanding short distance views. A decision I would not have dared to take ten years ago.

Bernhard Denkinger

Can you explain the layout of the project:

A simple parcours is leading in form of a spiral to the center, where the objects of early medieval sacral art are presented. Three ramps are iniciating the parcours. The longitudinal space ist designed in different ways on the right side and on the left side. On the right side a irregular way highlights archeological objects, the left side refers to the early christian cloister settlements and is designed in a regular, geometric way. There is a strong relation between entrance and center. Having reached the center visitors face the distant entrance area - separated by the back-lit ramp.

Bernhard Denkinger

What problems or challenges did you face?:

70 Million EURO of Insurance values for the objects requiring high standards of conservation and the integration of existing Standard showcases. I created platforms allowing to place the standard showcases in geometric blocks, I designed elements containing light installations that are connecting the existing and new designed showcases. All new designed showcases are designed as modular elements mounted on the platforms and re-usable for further exhibition purposes.

Bernhard Denkinger

What do you feel were the most unusual design elements of the project?:

The very dark space, its underlying "fire" (light installations), the pure character of the objects, the reference to the exposition space - a building of industrial modern of the late 20th of the nineteenth century. One element showing this are curtains made of industrial chains painted black: they reflect the woven metal shirts that protected medieval fighters, but chains also were used in early industrial buildings and conveyer belts.

How do you think this project is pushing design forward? What makes it special?:

The project focuses on issues of content. Themes of the scientific concept as well as the materials and the intellectual value of the exposition objects are generating the presentation. The continuous underlying structure of light reflects the exposition theme. The design uses very simple spacial sequences, nevertheless the corresponding irregular and regular spaces form a rich non-schematic space.

 

CADA Design’s interactive retail experience for Danish convenience group COOP

How were you commissioned?

We were appointed this position back in September last year by Danish retailers, COOP, who CADA have previously worked with on a new store format for their sister company Irma, back in December 2013.

Cada1

What was the brief from the client and how much were they involved?

CADA was asked to consider both the interior design and the accompanying graphics. The brief stated that the store needed to engage with its audience, creating a highly interactive and energetic atmosphere with facilities such as coffee shop, deli counter, bakery and most excitingly a live TV Kitchen. With a flash of neon graphics, marble, industrial metal shelving and statement lighting the overall effect is stylish and intriguing. The Denmark national press have coined the term "The Dean and Deluca of Denmark". In regards to COOP's involvement, they provided us with strong ideas of what they wanted but complete creative reign.

Cada2

How did the brief affect the materials and design choices?

The brief stated they wanted an innovative retail experience, which kept in keeping with a traditional market set up. We mixed rustic and industrial materials to create an association with a market place, yet next to a flash of contemporary neon, white tiles and pendant lighting it has become something quite spectacular.

Cada3

How did your previous experience help you with this project?

CADA Design specialise in F&B Design. We have worked with the likes of Dean & Deluca, Harrods and Westfield to create innovative retail experiences. It is our 25 years of experience that has led to us understanding the needs of the consumer and how design can affect that.

Cada4

Can you explain the layout of the project:

The project started by distinguishing the brand's identity. From there the design development was in motion. CADA was in control of the spacial planning, sourcing of materials and furnishings, concept drawings, way-finding, merchandise and promotional documents. Project management and site surveying were performed by external companies.

Cada5

What problems or challenges did you face?

Working in a listed building was challenging at times. Showing a sensitivity to its historic setting was of high importance and the design had to fit within the space but bring it into the 21st century. There were also design restrictions to contend with. CADA had to consider some of the design elements (signage for example) carefully due to the protected walls and features. As the station is in the Central Station, over 90,000 commuters and customers visit the store daily. CADA designed the space to accommodate high volumes of shoppers in a controlled and organised manner.

Cada6

What do you feel were the most unusual design elements of the project?

Transforming a historic building into a modern retail space is unusual in itself. We had to understand the building and its history to translate a sensitive yet dynamic design. We were also turning a traditional space into a transitional space. The live TV kitchen generating a lot of energy, which needed to be controlled within its surroundings.

Cada7

How do you think this project is pushing design forward? What makes it special?

The project is pushing design to think how a space can be used to engage its audience. With an enviable footfall passing through the store each day, live national broadcasts and cooking demonstrations coming from the in-store TV2 Studio, you are enticed by the theatrical surroundings that welcome you to explore the store.

Main suppliers:

Lighting

Expedit, Philips

Chillers

Vibocold

 

Ruth Carpenter, CADA Design

How were you commissioned?

We were appointed this position back in September last year by Danish retailers, COOP, who CADA have previously worked with on a new store format for their sister company Irma, back in December 2013.

Cada1

What was the brief from the client and how much were they involved?

CADA was asked to consider both the interior design and the accompanying graphics. The brief stated that the store needed to engage with its audience, creating a highly interactive and energetic atmosphere with facilities such as coffee shop, deli counter, bakery and most excitingly a live TV Kitchen. With a flash of neon graphics, marble, industrial metal shelving and statement lighting the overall effect is stylish and intriguing. The Denmark national press have coined the term "The Dean and Deluca of Denmark". In regards to COOP's involvement, they provided us with strong ideas of what they wanted but complete creative reign.

Cada2

How did the brief affect the materials and design choices?

The brief stated they wanted an innovative retail experience, which kept in keeping with a traditional market set up. We mixed rustic and industrial materials to create an association with a market place, yet next to a flash of contemporary neon, white tiles and pendant lighting it has become something quite spectacular.

Cada3

How did your previous experience help you with this project?

CADA Design specialise in F&B Design. We have worked with the likes of Dean & Deluca, Harrods and Westfield to create innovative retail experiences. It is our 25 years of experience that has led to us understanding the needs of the consumer and how design can affect that.

Cada4

Can you explain the layout of the project:

The project started by distinguishing the brand's identity. From there the design development was in motion. CADA was in control of the spacial planning, sourcing of materials and furnishings, concept drawings, way-finding, merchandise and promotional documents. Project management and site surveying were performed by external companies.

Cada5

What problems or challenges did you face?

Working in a listed building was challenging at times. Showing a sensitivity to its historic setting was of high importance and the design had to fit within the space but bring it into the 21st century. There were also design restrictions to contend with. CADA had to consider some of the design elements (signage for example) carefully due to the protected walls and features. As the station is in the Central Station, over 90,000 commuters and customers visit the store daily. CADA designed the space to accommodate high volumes of shoppers in a controlled and organised manner.

Cada6

What do you feel were the most unusual design elements of the project?

Transforming a historic building into a modern retail space is unusual in itself. We had to understand the building and its history to translate a sensitive yet dynamic design. We were also turning a traditional space into a transitional space. The live TV kitchen generating a lot of energy, which needed to be controlled within its surroundings.

Cada7

How do you think this project is pushing design forward? What makes it special?

The project is pushing design to think how a space can be used to engage its audience. With an enviable footfall passing through the store each day, live national broadcasts and cooking demonstrations coming from the in-store TV2 Studio, you are enticed by the theatrical surroundings that welcome you to explore the store.

Main suppliers:

Lighting

Expedit, Philips

Chillers

Vibocold

 

Totem<sup>3</sup> by Seán & Stephen on Walthamstow High Street

How were you commissioned?:

We were appointed as the designers following a closed-invite tender. We were invited by the London Borough of Waltham Forest (LBWF) because we had previously provided design services for them.

Totem dark

What was the brief from the client and how much were they involved?:

The brief, at tender stage, began as a bespoke sign-post for restaurants and the cinema to advertise from. Following concept design and a brief development workshop the client was prepared to consider the project more as a curious urban intervention rather than seeking another soulless, though pragmatic, signage. The client, LBWF, input on all outwardly visible design decisions, and relayed policy and concerns from the Council at each design and construction stage meeting.

Totem

How did the brief affect the materials and design choices?:

The project was to be durable in constant exposure to weather. The brief related to the harsh site conditions - constant traffic, driving rain and wind, possible vandalism and risk of structure being climbed. In response the design sought tough, rare, corten steel, in circular hollow sections, was flown in from Illinois USA for the legs of the Totem. A lightweight aluminium and steel internal frame resisted wind loads, and the head cube was clad in white opal perspex. The perspex provided wipe-able, shatter-resistant surfaces, while the corten was a rough offering to street-level bashes and haptic encounters.

Totem

How did your previous experience help you with this project?:

Our previous project working for LBWF on improving their high streets with shop-front interventions gave us a sense of the community and local built environment. With this in mind we knew early on that the design should resist looking too comfortable in it's location, rather look like a visitor, or a passing pedestrian.

Can you explain the layout of the project:

Long spindley corten steel legs hold aloft a white cube, on which markings - half-hieroglyph, half wayfinding - are applied. The cube has concealed LED light sheets giving an even glow to the street.

Totem

What problems or challenges did you face?:

Multiple stakeholders pulled the design in multiple directions - changing the overall bias from one of advertising to one of urban art/sign design was a challenging maneuver, though one which helped produce a truly curious and unique outcome. Another issue was the prospect of adding another piece of street furniture to an otherwise already cluttered and utilitarian streetscape. To set our design apart we sought differentiation in form and materials.

Totem

What do you feel were the most unusual design elements of the project?:

Given the context of a London suburb town centre, the materials and form of the design really make it stand out. The cube and long legs are formal, considered gestures, almost anthropomorphic, or cartoon-like in proportions. The corten material has some character and subtlety of light and texture which the streetscape palette is otherwise void of.

 

Totem

How do you think this project is pushing design forward? What makes it special?:

Simply working between civic stakeholders and commercial stakeholders to produce a sculptural urban form.

Main Suppliers:

Fabrication

The White Wall Company

Structural Engineer
Structural Workshop

 

Lancashire Insurance Group, London, by EDGE

Fx


Project Info
Client:
Lancashire Insurance Group
Architect: EDGE
Size: 3,054 sq m
Cost: Confidential
Duration: Eight months


Words by Emily Martin.

Photography by Gareth Gardner.


20 Fenchurch Street has been a topic of conversation since construction began in 2009, and with building works completed last year the 'Walkie Talkie', as many know it, has dramatically altered London's skyline.

The building offers spectacular city views, but its greatest advantage for tenants is the enlarged floor space when compared to some of London's other commercial buildings.

And this was a deciding factor for the Lancashire Insurance Group, which has taken up occupation in the latest landmark structure.

A variety of seating, including bar stools by Muuto, has been provided in the Forum design concept to provide a social space that conveys the characters of both companies

It has dedicated more a third of the floor plate to front-of-house and break-out areas while retaining comfortable and spacious work zones.

'The floor plates throughout 20 Fenchurch Street are larger than many of the other London skyscrapers,' explains Michael Fern, project principal and executive director at EDGE, which completed the new interior space for the Lancashire Insurance Group. Located on level 29, the gross internal area is 3,054 sq m.

A freestanding reception desk greets visitors
A freestanding reception desk greets visitors

'This allowed the company to occupy only one floor and yet at the same time keep to its density requirements,' says Fern.

With the space shared with Cathedral Insurance Group, another insurance company underneath Lancashire Insurance Group umbrella, EDGE was briefed to create a 'next-generation design', with the practice establishing the 'common elements shared by both businesses'. Fen explains: 'We needed to work out how to affiliate the two companies' employer brands to form a unified space that complimented them both...EDGE's big idea for the space was to create "The Forum": an open and honest community celebrating the unified spirit of Lancashire and Cathedral.'

Key materials were selected to represent the two brands
Key materials were selected to represent the two brands

A principal challenge for EDGE was integrating the two businesses - or what it describes as 'two cultures' - to create a unique employer brand while maintaining individual identity. Ferns says the resulting design promotes interaction and transforms the Lancashire and Cathedral ways of working into a more collaborative and productive method. 'The new office is the first integrated workplace for both companies, which in effect do the same thing. But the space needed to reflect their separate cultures while allowing them to share spaces, such as reception, visitors' lounge, meeting rooms and staff facilities. The project promotes interactions, so answering a key brief requirement with social design.'

Using 'impact' as the scheme's principal vision, EDGE has created an uplifting journey for visitors and staff from entry to workspace.

And being located on the 29th floor the practice wanted to capitalise on the spectacular views. 'We wanted to do justice to the London skyline by ensuring the design provided great visibility throughout,' says Fern.

'As the lift doors open and you step out into the space you are greeted with a circular reception desk, the shape of which frames the panoramic backdrop of the city skyline.'

 A pic ‘n’ mix vending machine is a quirky addition to the visitor’s lounge
A pic 'n' mix vending machine is a quirky addition to the visitor's lounge

The Forum design concept features a dedicated client and staff social/entertainment area, occupying a third of the floor space. Featuring orange bar stools that offset a statement black and white tiled bar - key colours of the Lancashire branding - the space is used primarily for staff events. In discussing how the space could further reflect the characters and work ethics of Lancashire and Cathedral, EDGE decided on a few statement pieces using materials that 'emulated the honesty' Lancashire wanted to convey.

Concrete benches, which stand as a statement of 'integrity' for the businesses, mixed with a timber theme to represent Lancashire/Cathedral as 'honest and open businesses.'

One of the more quirky features seen in the design is the installation of a 'pic 'n' mix' station in the visitors' lounge. This, along with some retro vending machines stationed on one of the lounge walls, creates a playful environment where clients and staff alike can relax and feel at home. In merging the personalities of the two companies colour quickly became significant and the bold black and orange branding of Lancashire was integrated into the design scheme to create a welcoming space.

These accent colours, also used in some seating and wall panelling, are mixed with more muted tones to provide warmth, as well as with more subtle tones of Cathedral's branding.

 Space-efficient ‘trader booths’ fit in with the open-plan style of the design
Space-efficient 'trader booths' fit in with the open-plan style of the design

With a large part of the overall space being used for client and staff entertaining, EDGE considered how to maximise the efficiency of remaining space for meeting rooms and work areas. The more traditional booths of insurance firms' underwriters were replaced with more space-efficient 'trader booths'; a more open-plan style of booth. EDGE say that they also fit with the relaxed office environment taking away the formality of an enclosed room.

This open-plan style is a feature of the workspace, encouraging not only space efficiency but also the desired 'family feel' as wished for by the client. For quiet work space EDGE has created 'focus booths' as part of the scheme, which are interspersed throughout the open-office space, and feature transparent sliding doors to keep with the theme of openness while providing privacy.

Fern comments: 'The dramatic, branded interior breaks new ground for what is normally a staid and "traditional" industry, positioning the client as change makers within their sector by creating a new "corporate cool".'

Suppliers

Furniture:
Vitra
Moroso
Fritz Hansen
Knoll
Walter Knoll
B&B Italia
James Burleigh

Flooring:
Desso
Bolon

Lighting:
Vibia

 



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Architect Mahmood Fallahian

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