A transformational office refurbishment project for the International Institute for Environment and Development, an environmental research organisation, this seven storey building provides open plan office and ancillary accommodation for around 100 staff and was a catalyst for major organisational change.
A move to open plan workspace has enabled more collaborative working between four distinct research groups, and created a welcoming environment with a strong identity for visiting staff and international research partners who may ‘touch down’ for anything between a few hours or a few months. A wide variety of shared, unallocated areas complements the open plan space; café, club, breakout areas, cubby holes, meeting rooms and auditorium; a strategy which has enabled more flexible working and increased occupancy rates from their current 50%. Presentation spaces have also provided a commercial opportunity for hiring out.
Emphasis on vertical circulation, the result of a small building footprint, helps create a unified identity for the organisation; the stairwell has become a giant bookcase, housing IIED’s many publications, with storage and display opportunities and visual connections between different parts of the building. These glimpses along the journey up through the building display who IIED are and what IIED are about.
The feel of the building is light and airy with a strong architectural language featuring simple white walls with spruce ply and dark formica finishes. IIED wanted a professional environment yet not sleek or corporate. Staff are located in neighbourhoods on each floor, and there are a number of individual spaces of character. The design of interiors and fixed and loose furniture are consistent across the building, reinforcing IIED as a single collaborative institution of disparate groups.
A pragmatic environmental strategy including exposed soffits, night cooling and solar film to windows creates the lowest possible carbon use for the budget. Acoustic ceiling panels absorb sound while keeping soffits clear.
The project was shortlisted for a BCO Award 2012.