Flexible workspace designed by Note Design Studio ‘breaks the grid’ with the striking contrasts achieved in post-war architecture.
Note Design Studio and TOG (The Office Group) revealed their vision of what the office space of the future should look like – as expressed by their collaboration in reinventing Douglas House, a new six-floor office building in West End of London.
When TOG acquired the lease, the 1930s block was devoted to functional but uninspiring office space. Stockholm-based practice was able to translate the art deco exterior into a high-level contemporary design that complemented and enhanced the Grade II-listed building.
Ahead of the Curve
The most striking feature of the design is a curvilinear wall of glass blocks that runs the entire length of the ground floor and creates a sense of light, transparency and openness throughout the space.
The wall also marks a shift in the interior colour palette, with warm woody neutrals and desert shades defining the communal spaces and break-out areas and cooler, softer blues used in the meeting rooms and working areas where concentration and focus are required. Pops of primary colour come in the form of vivid ultramarine Marenco armchairs and sofas by Artrex, Muller van Severen hanging lamps and powder-coated stools in bold red and blue.
The inventive material palette draws strongly on natural finishes, incorporating ash stained in various shades, walnut and terrazzo. Designing around a building with extensive wear and tear, wherever possible, Note and TOG agreed to retain the existing materials from the original design. When this was not possible, materials that would be reusable in future (including steel, glass and ceramics) were selected. Where plastics were required, the team employed the 100% recyclable Tarkett IQ range of wall and floor coverings. Remarkably, they were able to salvage the building’s existing parquet floors in their entirety, lifting, renovating and replacing every last block. Other sustainability-led initiatives include the addition of a bank of solar panels and a green biodiverse roof.
Note has ensured there is a striking contrast between the exterior and interior. Outside, the building’s facade is repetitive and grid-like; inside is an altogether richer, more fluid and less predictable experience – beginning at the moment of entry, when you’re confronted with a wide reception desk in a head-turning blue ALPI Sottsass veneer.
“It has a lot more expression than you normally see in a traditional office. Our ambition has been to make something that communicates with you intuitively, so that when you enter the space, you can feel the interior almost physically.” – Charlotte Ackemar, interior architect, Note Design Studio
It is a contrast not a clash – certain features of the façade, such as its iron detailing, acted as jumping-off points for the design of the interior, and the colour of the bricks was the springboard for developing the colour palette.
A number of newly commissioned artworks continue the artistic streak, including pieces from Jenny Nordberg, Jochen Holz, Wang & Söderström, Philipp Schenk- Mischke, James Shaw, Mijo Studio and Studio Furthermore.
DESIGN: Note Design Studio
CLIENT: TOG’s (The Office Group)
ADDRESS: 131–151 Great Titchfield Street, London, UK