We are delighted to announce that our proposed scheme in Reading has received unanimous approval from local Councillors.
The development for Thackeray Estate seeks to rejuvenate the town centre by creating a retail hub with a thriving market square and modern aparthotel.
The scheme received glowing praise from the committee. Councillor Liam Challenger said: “It’s great to see something with such love and appreciation going into it. Seeing something so refined and simple really adds to the town.”
Councillor Rowland added: “It’s rare that you get an application where people don’t complain and indeed complement but this is truly one of those applications.”
Local press also enthusiastically backed the scheme, read some of the reports here and here.
Longer days are here and we have a spring in our step at Frost. Works completed at Parkhall, our scheme at Queen Victoria Street has had fantastic local feedback, things are progressing on site nicely in a number of locations, and we were finally able to meet up in person! Come and see what we got up to in a busy, sunny April.
Queen Victoria Street – We are delighted to show you all our mixed-use destination scheme in Reading. Read about it here. You can also see the glowing write up we’ve received in the local press here. Parkhall Business Centre – Works wrapped up at Parkhall Business Centre and we’re thrilled with the end result. Check out the finished project here. Dimes Place – Demolition of the old timber yard at Dimes Place is now complete, preparing the site for an exciting new development. Dudley Road – Works are continuing at our latest project on Dudley Road, our favourite road in Wimbledon. Bayswater Houses – Works continue on the new houses in Bayswater, and we can’t wait to show you the result. Bennetts Hill House – Works are ongoing on our first Birmingham project, Bennetts Hill House. Wandsworth House – We are in planning for alterations to a lovely home in Wandsworth.
Our new project in Reading town centre will transform a prime listed heritage asset on a strategically significant site. The mixed use development, recently submitted for planning, includes 16 retail units for boutique and independent traders, a 41 suite aparthotel and a vibrant market square.
At Frost we are big believers in the environmental advantages and opportunities of refurbishing sites and buildings. Many of our projects feature the restoration of dilapidated sites, listed buildings and heritage areas. Transforming a neglected heritage asset is not only environmentally advantageous, but also allows developers to restore and transform a building while operating within planning constraints.
As well as the economic and environmental benefits, restoring a heritage building provides developers and architects the opportunity to capitalise on the established history and reputation of the building and the area. Designs and restorations can reflect the historical theme while allowing room for modern upgrades.
Our latest scheme withThackeray Estate, Queen Victoria Street (QVS), provided us with a further opportunity to expand on the principles of restoration, and the chance to rejuvenate a key retail and heritage area. The listed asset in Reading town centre is in a prime area of strategic significance, with substantial local travel links and an established reputation in the area.
Join as we take a closer look at the proposed scheme, and how the development presents the chance to revitalise a neglected and vacant space to create a genuine economic hub.
The existing site is located in Reading Town Centre, 200m from the train station, and contains heritage listed buildings in a deteriorating and neglected state with a variety of harmful additions. The location offers the chance to be a premium retail and economic hub, with excellent transport links and an already significant heritage reputation.
The existing buildings are of considerable architectural quality but have been compromised by unsympathetic additions. With the foundations already set for an area of architectural excellence, the careful restoration of the facades and terracotta detailing will restore the site to its former visual quality and prominence. The vacant interiors of the heritage buildings will be refurbished to provide a high quality mixed use scheme.
As well as restoring the architectural beauty of the existing buildings, the scheme will remove the low quality additions, and replace them with a sensitive, high quality and uniform proposal.
The proposed design for new shop fronts has been informed by historical photographs dating back to 1939, ensuring the new restoration respects the past while creating a design standard for the rest of the street to follow.
Restoring these listed buildings to their architectural conception, while providing sympathetic and historically informed additions, will create a modern, premium space grounded in the architectural significance and heritage of the area.
Restoring the visual eminence and architectural quality of the site is phase one of the proposal at QVS. The next step is to put the new scheme to use.
The success of the proposal is built on three pillars; heritage retail, an aparthotel and a market square.
Listed and heritage buildings offer the perfect backdrop for a retail destination. Capitalising on the excellent location, the new scheme will be a genuine retail hub. The new high quality shopfronts will ensure a cohesive façade and create a destination identity for the hub, while independent shops and small businesses provide the diversity of the retail experience. The high street is a long suffering enterprise. The heritage identity of the hub, combined with the diverse independent retailers that will populate the scheme, will regenerate the area as stand-out retail destination.
The aparthotel is a modern phenomenon, the perfect model for town centre accommodation. It offers the services of a hotel with the freedom and comfort of an apartment. It offers a lifestyle.
By providing a location in the heart of the town, the proposal offers easy access to the local area and the chance to explore. The aparthotel is intended for short term stays serving business travellers and tourists, and attracting both international and domestic customers. By locating the aparthotel in the restored listed building, the accommodation is a truly unique experience offering customers the chance to feel part of the history of the town.
The Aparthotel at QVS offers a variety of high quality, serviced apartments in a hotel setting. By creating a travel destination on top of a retail hub, both elements are enhanced.
Placing the high quality retail and aparthotel experience within the heritage buildings creates a destination in its own right; the intention at QVS is to provide an economic hub that will rejuvenate the entire area.
The market square is key to this objective. The principle of the square is to create a collection of boutique retailers, independent food traders and artisans creating a vibrant lifestyle destination. A careful combination of partners ensure a successful public realm. Food outlets create the atmosphere while shops provide the diversity. The market square will become the heart of the community offering the complete experience.
In current times, the need for retailers and eateries to have access to outdoor space has become even more apparent. These alfresco spaces allow them to enhance their offering and create a energised atmosphere.
The new market square will see a vibrant and intimate public space offered back to the town of Reading. The square will become a key destination with high quality retail and café spaces, as well as offering the opportunity to host the kind of unique events and festivals seen around the country – farmers markets, sporting events, art festivals all offer the opportunity to create a unique, inclusive experience.
Creating an event destination, a space where people gather, share and create memories, as well as enjoying the retail experience, will rejuvenate the area and revitalise the town.
Queen Victoria Street will be an event destination. A centrepiece for the town of Reading and a tourist destination for visitors beyond. A space that could catalyse the growth of the town and transformation of the town centre experience.
Quicker than it takes Frost to secure a planning approval, February has been and gone in an instant! With March bringing longer days, more sun, and hopefully a little more fun, we’re in an optimistic mood here at Frost. Lots of that optimism comes from all the great projects we’re working on at the moment; come and take a look at some of the things we’ve been up to in the thankfully shortest month of the year.
Queen Victoria Street – We are now in planning for this fantastic scheme in Reading, including a market square, retail space & an Aparthotel. The scheme got a glowing right up from local media, check that out here. Parkhall Business Centre – Works are almost complete at Parkhall Business Centre, take a sneak peek here. Dimes Place – Demolition of the old timber yard at Dimes Place is now complete, preparing the site for an exciting new development. Dudley Road – Works are continuing at our latest project on Dudley Road, our favourite road in Wimbledon. Bayswater Houses – Works continue on the new houses in Bayswater, and we can’t wait to show you the result. Bennetts Hill House – Works are ongoing on our first Birmingham project, Bennetts Hill House. Dockmasters House – We secured planning for further alterations to Dockmaster’s House, a listed building in Canary Wharf. Birthday Blues – We had two birthdays in the office, Sam & Georgina, both of whom were gutted to miss out on the traditional office cake (less gutted to miss out on some tuneless happy birthday singing).
2021 was threatening to continue where 2020 left off, but one snowy weekend has lifted everyone’s spirits and at Frost we’re starting to believe that everything just might be all white. We’ve got lots of exciting projects on at various stages of development, come and read about what we’ve been upto.
Snow place like home – We spoke to our staff about how they’re adjusting to working from home, you can read that here. 2020 – We also took some time to reflect on a our highlights from a difficult year, come and check that out here. Parkhall Business Centre – Works are continuing at our latest Workspace project, Parkhall Business Centre. Dudley Road – Works are continuing at our latest project on Dudley Road,our favourite road in Wimbledon. Bayswater Houses – Works continue on the new houses in Bayswater, and we can’t wait to show you the result. Dimes Place– Demolition is underway at Dimes Place, making room for a new 30,000 sqft office development in Hammersmith. Bennetts Hill House – Works are ongoing on our first Birmingham project, Bennetts Hill House. Banstead House – We are in planning for alterations to a family home in Banstead.
I’m sure many readers will be thankful 2020 is coming to an end, and who can blame them?! This unprecedented year of turmoil and uncertainty has affected all of us in unimaginable ways. The coronavirus pandemic shook the world and its ramifications are still being experienced 9 months (can you believe it’s been 9 whole months?) later, consequences that are showing no signs of abating.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom. Buoyed by news of the impending visits of both Santa Claus and Father Vacc-mas, we wanted to try and end a difficult year on a high. Join us as we look back at some of the highlights, changes, and things we’re looking forward to. Frost Architects, this is your 2020.
Coronavirus – Improvise, Adapt, Overcome
Like everyone, we quickly discovered we were not immune to the impact of the Coronavirus. We shut down our office in March and have been working remotely ever since. The change of scenery and pace of working at home has had its benefits, the number of Frost dogs doubled and, while we’re still adapting, staff are enjoying the freedom remote working has granted. You can read more about how we’ve adjusted to working from home here.
Considering the devastating impact the Coronavirus has had on the global economy, we are proud to have weathered that storm, retaining staff and continuing to deliver high quality projects for our clients. We have ended the year as busy as ever as our workload continues to grow. We are delighted to have started work for some notable new clients, including Thackeray Estates.
The ability to remote work has been particularly handy as we’re also spreading our geographic wings, taking on our first ever project in Birmingham for Dunmoore. We’re also working on projects in Reading, Bristol & Dorset, as word of Frost’s quality delivery spreads across the UK.
Finished by Frost
It’s been a great year at Frost for delivering finished buildings. We love the opportunity to see a client’s vision all the way through until the last brick has been laid, last bit of furniture placed, and that last light bulb is working. We delivered two of our biggest and best projects this year. Mare Street Studios, for Workspace, is an 83,000sqft office development in Hackney that takes pride of place in our portfolio, and we’ve entered it for the AJ Retrofit awards. Come and learn more about it here.
We also delivered the new HQ for the London Taxi Drivers Association. Taxi House, completed in September, is already a notable visual landmark in the local area. Have a read about the project and our experience with the LTDA here.
On the residential side of things, we completed several projects across London & Surrey, including this beautiful new build home in Surrey.
Penny for our thoughts
One of our biggest highlights of the year was Dan & Simon getting the opportunity to be interviewed by Workspace about our years of experience working with them. While giving a tour of Mare Street Studios they gave a wide ranging interview you can read here.
We had planned on spending most of 2020 celebrating our 10th year of trading. As you can imagine, this wasn’t quite how we saw our birthday going. You’ll forgive us if we extend our planned celebrations a bit longer, and hope we can spend 2021 enjoying and sharing our postponed festivities
It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel remote
One week in March, the way the world worked suddenly changed. At Frost, we shut down our office and went to remote working and things have stayed that way ever since. This short sharp shock has brought about a drastic change in the way we operate as an office. Staff have set up desks at home and are utilising remote working tools to communicate with clients, contractors, suppliers & each other. We wanted to investigate the impact these changes have had on our staff, and how we can ensure staff feel interconnected. How do we meet the social needs of the team, and ensure the environment of inclusion and togetherness is maintained while we work from a distance.
We chatted to our staff about the impact the changes have had on them, and how we can meet the challenges of remote working going forward.
Communication is key
For many, the biggest change has been felt socially. We asked everyone if they felt they had enough regular contact with their colleagues, and they all felt this had been limited by the change. While using Teams has meant work related conversation is easy, Laura said “I miss the informal chats you have around the office. It’s hard to justify setting up a Teams call for just a catch up”, which requires more effort and intent than just wandering over to a colleagues desk, or heading out for lunch at the same time, or three people going to do the washing up when really one is enough. Georgina said that while there was regular work contact with people she is directly working with, she is really missing Friday afternoon drinks or more informal get togethers. We have made a point at Frost to have weekly catch ups, but it remains to be seen if it’s possible to replace the natural social interaction of an office while working from home.
Tools of the trade
As Architects, a lot of our work is collaborative. Printing out drawings and gathering round a table for mark ups and design discussions is a key part of the development of our projects. Now these meetings aren’t possible, we asked the team if they felt the remote working software substitutes were adequate, or even an improvement on, these discussions. Both Elena and Simona felt they were, particularly noting that being able to screen share means live improvements can be made to drawings or documents directly on the software, expediting the design process. “Being able to access information during meetings is invaluable”, said Elena, noting that when in meetings or presenting to clients, if questions or queries pop up during the meeting, you have access to all of our files and drawings.
Additionally, having these focussed group calls keeps meetings productive and focussed on the project at hand. Dan noted that these video meetings tend to be shorter and more productive. Si added that these meetings are great for small focussed groups, however when there is too many people on a call it can be disruptive and harder to control. Ultimately they are still no substitutes for face to face meetings, which tend to have a more natural flow and rhythm, and as Simona noted, “it’s hard to beat a good old fashioned felt tip for mark ups.”
Parks, Perks & Pets
There are obviously some great benefits to working from home. There’s been a nationwide petdemic, with more dogs being adopted than ever. Laura took advantage of the extra time at home to adopt a very handsome little dog Max, and Georgina brought home the exuberant and loveable Charlie. They join Boo & Bear (Dan & Sam’s) on the Frost office dogs team. Charlie, Max, Boo and Bear are repawtedly all loving having their owners home all the time, and taking them out for a walk is a pawfect way to spend a lunch break. Simon, Elena & Simona, meanwhile, are thoroughly enjoying their lack of a busy London commute, using the extra time in the morning to take the kids to school, go for a walk in the park or have a lie in (we won’t disclose who is who!).
The future’s bright, the future’s remote
Directors Dan & Simon both felt that this change, albeit forced, had changed how they perceived the possibility of remote working. Even when things return to ‘normal’, at Frost we are expecting to blend the possibility of working from home with having an office location. The developments in remote working means the future of working looks more flexible than ever, which will be great news for the team, and more importantly, the Frost dogs!
It’s clear then, that the biggest challenge with remote working is replacing the social environment naturally created in an office. While collaborative working tools such as Teams work as a good substitute, and in some areas even enhance collaborative working, their ability to replace the more intangible sense of community and inclusion is a little less clear. We must ensure going forward efforts are made to replicate that feeling and ensure staffs social needs are met in this new, remote world.
The clocks have gone back but we’re looking forward to a busy end to 2020 at Frost. We have a number of projects across various stages of development, come and see what we have going on.
Mare Street Studios – We have entered Mare Street Studios into the AJ Retrofit Awards, and are excited about our chances in this great competition celebrating sustainable design. Parkhall Business Centre – As well as being on site at Parkhall, we have been redesigning the break-out space. Dudley Road – Works are continuing at our latest project on Dudley Road, definitely our favourite road in Wimbledon. Bayswater Houses – Works continue on the new houses in Bayswater, and we can’t wait to show you the result. Islington House– We are in planning for a contemporary new build home in the Islington conservation area. St Albans House – We are in planning for alterations to a lovely home in St Albans. Dockmaster’s House – We’re now out to tender for the works at Dockmaster’s House. Bennetts Hill House – Works have begun on our Birmingham project, Bennetts Hill House.
The nights are drawing in and the weather is getting Frostier by the week. Things have stayed busy at Frost through September, have a look at some of the things we’ve been up to over the last month.
Mare Street Studios – We did a Q&A with Workspace about our latest and greatest project Mare Street Studios, take a look here. Taxi House – The LTDA have moved into their new HQ and are delighted with the new space, getting lots of comments from passers by! Parkhall Business Centre – Works continue at our current Workspace project, Parkhall and the site is looking good. Bennetts Hill House – Works are due to start on site on our first ever project in Birmingham, refurbishing and extending an office building for Dunmoore. Dudley Road – We are back on site on one of our favourite roads in Wimbledon. This time we’re adding a new annexe and extension to a lovely family home. Bayswater Houses – We are currently on site building two new homes near Hyde Park. Wireless Factory – We continue to work on these offices in Isleworth, which should be on site before the end of the year. Nuffield Way – We secured planning for an additional floor to an industrial unit in Abingdon.
We’re back! It’s been a strange few months but things have come back with a bang in July and we’re as busy as ever. People want to Build, Build, Build and we’re here to help them.
Signal Works – Exciting news as our latest office development project is complete! Signal Works will serve as the new HQ for the LTDA. Keep an eye out as we bring you more information about this exciting project. Hammersmith House – We are in planning for a new build two-storey home in Hammersmith. Esher House – Works completed on this beautiful family home in Esher. Keep an eye out as we have more photos on the way. Dockmasters House – We obtained planning approval for further modifications to one of our previous projects, Dockmasters House. The new designs include an extension internal modifications. Parkhall Business Centre – We are now on site at Parkhall where we are refurbishing 20,000 sqft of space to provide offices, meeting rooms and breakout spaces. Claygate House – We are also in planning for alterations to this lovely home in Claygate. Birmingham Office – We have recently been commissioned to design an extension to a commercial building in Birmingham
Mare Street Studios is the culmination of a 5 year process with Workspace and we couldn’t be more thrilled with the result. This 83,000 sq ft project has transformed the old run down 20th Century warehouse buildings into a sleek, modern flexible office business centre.
Workspace Development Director, Angus Boag, says “We are delighted with our new flagship business centre at Mare Street Studios where Frost and the team have delivered an exciting design providing some of the best flexible space in east London.”
Unfortunately we are unable to show you around, so let’s take a closer look at some of the design, detail and delivery of our latest project.
As Architects, we know how important the exterior of a building is to both office providers and their customers. You don’t get a second chance at a first impression, so the external façade is the first and best opportunity to demonstrate design quality. Originally a furniture factory but more recently used by a mix of light industrial business, the existing buildings were in bad need of a facelift.
The main warehouse building fronting onto Mare Street has received a full makeover with façade cleaning, new windows, new entrance and a shiny glass box rooftop extension.
To the rear, the workshop ‘sheds’ were of such low quality they were demolished and replaced with a 4 storey extension. This gave us the opportunity to have a little fun with a nod to the site’s history. We designed a new brick façade of modest yet playful brick detailing to reflect the warehouse buildings of the past while sitting comfortably in the diverse urban fabric of Hackney. The brick corbelling adds depth and layers, together with projecting headers and recessed panels creating an eye catching dimensional appearance and rhythm. This allows the building to stand out as high quality, while retaining its heritage and reflecting its immediate geography. Standing out while fitting in is a tricky needle to thread, but we think this subtle yet quality design does just that.
At Frost we have always been champions of sustainable design. We seek to create buildings with longevity that understand their place in space and time. Mare Street Studios gave us the opportunity to realise these ideals. From the conception of the project, achieving BREEAM excellent was a high priority for Workspace and ourselves, and several steps were taken to achieve the target.
The main warehouse building was retained to reduce waste and satisfy our desire to reuse and recycle. The windows were replaced with thermally efficient products, and by removing the existing roof for a rooftop extension, we were able to improve the thermal performance of the building fabric.
PVs are located on the roof to offset energy consumption, and green roofs were installed to the rear extension roof to encourage biodiversity. A more sustainable and effective substrate to the green roof was used including recycled crushed bricks and clay and organic composted bark fines. Wildlife is further encouraged through the use of bird and bat boxes at high level and through the use of wildflower species.
community & wellbeing
Community & wellbeing are also high up on the agenda. Workspace are renowned for their flexible office model, providing co-working spaces for start-ups, remote workers and freelancers, while also providing high quality private office premises for companies that graduate to a more permanent and tethered location. Shared spaces then, such as co-working areas, cafes, tea points and meeting rooms must be quality and comfortable, helping facilitate growth and inspiring the community of customers.
These principles have been achieved at Mare Street Studios in a variety of ways. We have made provision for storing 144 bikes together with generous and luxurious shower facilities, encouraging commuters to cycle. All customers have access to the central roof terrace creating an urban oasis overlooking London. The provision of communal outdoor space is vital to worker wellbeing as well as to networking and collaboration. Many offices also have their own private outdoor spaces.
Private spaces have also been designed with wellbeing in mind. The phonebooths, strategically scattered around the building, are softly lit and decorated with tactile materials and textures to promote a relaxed atmosphere. The acoustic panels help the space feel private, cosy and intimate. The mustard yellow wall panels add a splash of colour and vibrancy.
The use of materials and textures is reinforced as you move around the building. The new concrete stair and lift core with black metal detailing to handrails and nosings further accentuates and remembers the site’s industrial past.
The corridors are animated through internal glass screens connecting the customers with the building and contributing to its life. The rough textures of the concrete frame and exposed brickwork are juxtaposed against a cool slick resin floor reminding us that this is a building fit for modern day working.
If you are looking for a high quality modern office in a building with a strong sense of community and an environment of wellbeing and a link to the past… we really do think that Mare Street Studios delivers! (But hey we’re biased of course.)
We know it’s been a challenging time for everyone, and the world of Architecture has been no exception. At Frost we’ve been closely monitoring and responding to the situation regarding the coronavirus pandemic.
Our top priority is the health and safety of staff and colleagues. We are set up to work remotely and are following government advice closely.
We are now in a position to be fully operational during this period of uncertainty and can continue to offer our full range of Architectural Services. We look forward to continuing to work with you in the following weeks and please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
You can continue to contact us in the normal way, we look forward to hearing from you and hope you are all keeping safe and well.
Our projects managed to weather a stormy February! Mare Street Studios reached practical completion and several other projects continue at various stages of development as our busy start to the year continues.
Mare Street Studios – Mare Street reached Practical Completion this week. The building is looking amazing and we can’t wait to show you the finished result. Banstead House – We also completed a residential project in Banstead which included new extensions and a complete facelift resulting in this great modern look. Biscuit Factory – We are starting on site at our latest Workspace project, The Biscuit Factory. We are refurbishing the 25,000 sqft of office space across 4 storeys. Parkhall Business Centre – Parkhall, another Workspace project, is also due to start on site this month. We are refurbishing 20,000 sqft of space to provide offices, meeting rooms and breakout spaces. Claygate House – We received planning permission for alterations to this gorgeous house in Claygate. Isleworth Offices – We are in the process of designing a new block of office buildings in Isleworth. LTDA HQ – Work continues on Signal Works, which will become the new Head Office of the LTDA. Esher House – Work is ongoing at this lovely family home in Esher.
We still can’t believe we’re ten years old, and as part of our celebrations we’re going to take some time showcasing our favourite ten projects from the past decade. Keep an eye out as we put some of our best work in the spotlight over the coming months, see if you can guess who’s going to win from the clues below.
Happy New Year everybody. We are delighted that January marks 10 years since Frost was set up, and can’t believe a whole decade has flown by so quickly.
It’s been an amazing ten years, keep an eye out as we’ve got plenty of events & content coming up we can’t wait to share with you as we spend the year celebrating our tenth birthday, reflecting on our decade and looking forward to another great ten years!
An election, a Christmas Party, some snagging and another three planning applications. The year might be winding down but things stay busy at Frost. Happy Christmas everyone!
Christmas Party – Thanks to the great teams at Heddon Street Kitchen and Electric Shuffle for a fantastic Christmas party. Mare Street – The brand new units are Mare Street are almost ready to be occupied. London Offices – We are designing a new, large scale office scheme in London. Surrey House – We are now in planning for a single storey extension to this gorgeous home in Surrey. Clerkenwell House – We are also in planning for a brand new 4 bed house. The Light Box – This eye catching new entrance signage at The Light Box has now gone up. Wandsworth Flats – We are in planning for a building in Wandsworth to provide 3 new flats and retail space. Docklands HQ – We are in the process of designing a refurbishment for a HQ in Docklands. London Development – We are also designing a new build residential development.
Co-working spaces now dominate the industry landscape. We toured some of London’s many facilities to find out how brands are setting themselves apart in a competitive environment.
Co-working spaces have exploded over the last decade and become the dominant market influencing the sector. The proliferation of these spaces has led to branching innovations in the ethos of design, reflecting and influencing the latest working practices. The modern workforce demands a space that offers more than simply an office or desk, there is an expectation for a workplace to be a holistic experience and lifestyle hub. There is now an assumption that a modern co-working building will supply on-site gyms, yoga studios, zen gardens, sleeping pods etc. However, as the facilities become identikit, how do brands stand out? The modern tenant, with access to reviews, feedback and invested in their own wellbeing, will likely be much more familiar with the ethos and reputation of a landlord, so developing a brand with a reputation for combining facilities with feel is crucial.
It becomes much harder to define, but the environment of a space therefore is now as important as the facilities. While the facilities may reflect the demands of the modern, younger workforce, it’s important that a space reflects the diverse needs of the population.
The biggest game-changer has been the influence of the hospitality sector. Many hotel providers are taking steps into the co-working market and this influence is seeping into the designs of existing providers. Increasingly front of house facilities in offices are adopting the meet and greet experience of higher end hotels. Office space receptionists are now concierges, providing information about the building, locality, and giving a warm and proactive start to the experience of a space. The integration of F&B into entrance spaces immediately provides a warm smell and feel, enhancing this hospitality like experience.
Office provider Fora have integrated this across their spaces. Their new space in Borough has a distinct hospitality feel. We were warmly greeted by a concierge space manned by two Fora Guest Experience Managers (GEMs), offered teas and coffees and immediately set at ease. A high class restaurant and bar space is visible just beyond the entrance. The deli café is part of the lobby. Calm and understated tones, with high quality materials and finishes, create a premium feel of a space catered to discerning professionals.
Another hook for a modern refurbishment is the heritage of either the building itself, or designing an environment that reflects the local context. This gives an identity to a space and working life that can feel transitory and untethered. Most modern co-working spaces seek to create a network amongst its tenants. Giving the space a contextualised identity and singular feel catalyses these communities. The space therefore has a cultural and geographic link while being designed for the future.
Soho Works new space in Shoreditch is a great example of this; the location’s industrial focus reflected in the stripped back feel of the space. Many of the buildings historic sliding doors are retained to serve as entrances to meeting rooms while retaining an urban vibe. Basic finishes continue the industrial theme. There is an almost antiquated design space provided to tenants, with manual tools supplied. A somewhat anachronistic 3D printer in the corner demonstrates that while the feel is stripped back, the space is geared for the modern industry. Soho as a brand is identified with a cool, hip atmosphere and they have transplanted this into their co-working enterprise. Taking their cues from the existing building and their brand ethos, they have created a space that combines the young, creative and modish with the historic and rustic.
Other providers create a theme that transcends their locations. With a lot of space handed over to ‘non fee earning’ areas, the above mentioned residential facilities, the space for actual co-working needs to maximise its profitability potential. Creating a feel of intimacy without it being cramped, proximity without invading personal space, can be a dilemma. This conundrum is successfully eased by many providers by creating a homely, intimate and comfortable environment. Artwork adorning the walls, a low key musical soundtrack provides a space workers can relax in and stay focussed when surrounded by their co-working community.
When we walked into the Uncommon space Fulham, we were immediately struck by the abundance of flora. The emphasis on worker wellbeing and relaxation is clear. Plants hang from the ceiling and creep up the walls. The walls in the entrance lobby, which serves as part of the co-working area, feature large windows meaning a constant supply of high levels of daylight. Low level, ambient music filters through the space. You are greeted at the door not only by an enthusiastic member of staff, but by sights, sounds and smells all designed to induce a sense of comfort. As you move through the building you notice each area is infused with its own unique scent. The attention to detail is a testament to how seriously Uncommon take worker comfort. By focussing on wellbeing and welfare, natural light and nature, ambience and atmosphere, Uncommon create a blueprint for co-working happiness which they are able to replicate across their network.
Of course, no company wants to stay in co-working forever. While entrepreneurs, start-ups, and freelancers provide near constant tenant supply, and have precipitated the boom in co-working, when a company grows in size it will invariably graduate to its own private office. Flexible offices then, which provide this duality of workplaces, must ensure they are in a position to facilitate growth for it’s tenants and be ready to capitalise when they are looking to upscale their premises. Providing a quality co-working space along with flexibility and opportunity for growth is therefore a priority.
Workspace’s latest flagship space, The Frames, places clear emphasis on creating a welcoming space for co-working and collaboration which inspires comfort and loyalty in its tenants. The entrance sequence is always at the heart of a Workspace building – a desire to give impact, encourage movement and facilitate collaboration results in well thought out space incorporating reception, co-working and café. The double height space of the entrance at The Frames gives immediate drama while providing a focus to the community and networking opportunities that being a Workspace customer offers. A contemporary piece of wall art dominates and proves a colourful foil to the otherwise cool and restrained backdrop of black and timber. Workspace business model relies on fledgling businesses graduating to its upper level private spaces as they grow, and this focus on operational excellence, flexibility and growth is achieved in the hi-spec professional finish and carefully considered layouts.
It is clear then, that a successful modern co-working space must provide the anticipated lifestyle facilities, but also must have a clear ethos and identity. Whether it’s grounding a space in history, emphasising worker comfort and collaboration, or drawing influence from other industries, or indeed blending all three, it is apparent that the modern workforce expects their needs to be met not only in terms of lifestyle, but attention to their emotional needs, their senses and their sensibilities.
It’s a typically busy month at Frost, with several projects across various stages of development.
Mare Street – As part of a design intervention at Mare Street we have designed bespoke phone booths, including glass doors and velvet wall cladding. Signal Works – These dramatic corten window reveals are currently being installed at Signal Works. Parkhall – We are in the process of designing our latest Workspace project, Parkhall Business Centre. We are refurbishing 20,000 sqft of space to provide offices, meeting rooms and breakout spaces. The Biscuit Factory – Another Workspace project, The Biscuit Factory, is starting on site this month. We are refurbishing the 25,000 sqft of office space across 4 storeys. EastHorsley House – We are delighted with this now completed beautiful new build home. Claygate House – Our latest project in Claygate is now finished and looking great. The works included a rear extension and internal remodelling. Hampton House – We are also delighted with this completed project in Hampton, including a rear extension and significant internal remodelling. Esher House – We are now on site with this wonderful home in Surrey. We are really excited to see how the final designs progress. The works include extensions, a garage conversion and internal remodelling.
The interior refurbishment works at China Works have now finished. In collaboration with Bluebottle, we renovated the old Royal Dalton building and have breathed new life into the space, creating a fresh, modern co-working environment. Check out more pictures here.
Extending your existing home by linking to an outbuilding is an increasingly popular and cost effective way of expanding your living space by making use of a garage or storage space that is no longer used the way it was intended. The way we live and use our homes is changing all the time. We value high quality living spaces for working, relaxing and entertaining over a place to keep the car dry! Similarly, a nicely converted garage to provide a stunning sun room or play room may not get the use it deserves if you need to walk out in the rain to use it on a winter’s day.
This is where the simple extension link is a great opportunity to do something a bit playful and different. By joining spaces together they can become much more useable and can really add space that is both valuable and enjoyable.
A glazed link is often a great idea. Not only does it bring light into a space that might otherwise be dark and enclosed, it also allows the two elements to be read separately, providing a sense of the site’s historic narrative. Inside the link, the external walls of the building become internal walls, which can work out quite nicely – our Hare Lane project used the exposed brickwork to add character to the new space. By creating a distinction between the traditional and contemporary you can clarify what’s new, what’s been retained, and explore the relationship between the two.
If the outbuilding is in close proximity to the house, whether and how you link them depends on how you live and intend to use the space in the future. Flexibility of use is important, it may start as a study or playroom for the kids, but over time become a media room, home office, or artist’s studio. The possibilities are endless and it’s important to retain versatility while ensuring the design and function reflects the short term requirements of the space.
It is of course important to consider planning and building control requirements when undertaking any building work. Whether or not planning permission is required is project specific and dependent on a variety of factors, such as proximity to boundaries, neighbouring buildings and if the building is listed or protected. We recommend seeking advice from the local authority before proceeding with any plans.
With a little knowledge and creativity, there are many ways to give those under used spaces in your home a new purpose.
Office environments are continually evolving as we adjust and adapt to meet the demands and opportunities that technology offers. But are we meeting the needs of the modern-day worker? The ability to be ‘on-line’ and available 24/7 puts a strain on the mental and physical health of us all. Working environments, therefore, need to respond to meet this changing dynamic. The mental environment is as important as the physical environment and wellbeing is now high up on the workplace agenda.
So what makes for a place of wellbeing? Designers are well practiced in putting the pieces of the physical jigsaw together to create high quality spaces. We are masters at using light, colour, ergonomics and materials to create spaces people want to be in. But we need to look beyond these physical and sensory experiences. We need to consider working practices. Admittedly this requires a receptive client and is perhaps beyond our normal remit, but the commercial realities of offices are changing. Technology has given people more options than we thought possible. Employers are having to alter contractual terms to meet the demands of the employee, who now leads the charge when it comes to how we work.
What can we do as designers? We now need to be experts in knowing the market (location, technology, style), knowing the demands of the workforce, ultimately knowing our clients better than they know themselves.
Every day the market makes strides in evolving trends and our industry follows. Can we predict and anticipate the next trend?
Co-working is the hot trend at the moment. This relatively small part of the sector has given fresh impetus to the changing workplace. Subscription membership, hot desks, dedicated desks, team rooms – all variations on how we structure space. These spaces are popular not only for sole traders and start-ups, but give the range of environments everyone likes to work in – informal work areas, quiet work areas, presentation spaces, meeting rooms, break out, cafe. This mix of spaces allows the chance to ‘switch off’, unwind and have a change of pace. These spaces and the means to do so need to be part of the workplace offer. We must look beyond our surroundings and embrace aspects such as nutrition, exercise and fun, if we are to keep pace with the demands of today’s workforce.