This showroom, for international furniture designers Orangebox, is next to the Grade 1 listed Finsbury Health Centre in Clerkenwell, and is part of a campus of buildings that make up the Bowling Green Lane estate and conservation areas. As well as responding to its site-specific constraints the project addresses the ever-changing requirements of 21st century work patterns inside and out.
A variegated-brick exterior blends with the surrounding Victorian warehouses and wraps around the irregular-shaped site. Striking two and half storey windows with graphic black reveals rise up directly from street level and allow passers-by to glimpse the company’s activities within. A new set back, shaded courtyard is created around an existing nature tree to define the building entrance.
Concrete floor slabs are exposed and rake back dramatically to reveal a lower ground floor. Concrete soffits are left exposed and turn upwards to form the edge of floors, the reception floor is of dark concrete sanded to expose flint aggregate, and white washed larch appears throughout to add warmth and texture.
Each floor of the building has a different plan dictated by the building form, and connected by a sculptural helical stair that winds through the centre of each space. A flexible sequence of voluminous and interconnected spaces, bathed in abundant natural light, culminates in a series of landscaped roof terraces which offer large outside spaces and impressive views of a notable 1887 church by John Dando Sedding.
At each step the building seeks to integrate with its surroundings and carefully improve upon them, respecting local height restrictions, and using striking modern design rooted in a palette of contextually sympathetic materials.
Orangebox’s radical approach to the interior spaces form five floors of diverse workspaces and places for clients to test out formal and casual collaboration and live ‘smartworking’ office strategies. The project has become a powerful design tool and agent for change in the workplace sector.
Blueprint Awards 2016 ‘Best Non-Public Commercial Project’ shortlist