Archive: Mar 2018

Gensler designs a co-working space for the Stephen Lawrence Centre to empower young people and start-ups

The Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust has launched a co-working space for start-ups and small businesses working within the built environment in London. Designed by Gensler, the open-plan space is a mindful spot filled with colour and green plants that will inspire and empower its users.

Designated for networking, development and collaboration among emerging architects, designers and creatives, ‘Your Space’ will bring desk and event spaces to members who can choose between flexible or long-term memberships. Users can work across a variety of areas including the members’ studio, the residence space, meeting rooms and an event facility with a roof terrace.

The motivational setting, filled with natural daylight and colour, is designed to fuel collaboration and connectivity. This positive atmosphere manifests the emotional and physical healing process that the Trust has promoted since it was founded 20 years ago after the tragic death of Stephen Lawrence in London in 1993.

The centre focuses on the Trust’s work supporting young people from disadvantaged backgrounds aged 13-30. In 2017 alone, the SLCT supported over 2,000 young people through training, mentoring, bursaries and other activities.

The global architecture, design and planning firm, Gensler, donated time and expertise alongside fit-out contractor BW Workplace Experts and branding agency LBA to reimagine space within the existing centre that opened its doors in 2007.

The team reconfigured three floors of the centre, opening space up and evolving its purpose while maintaining the spirit of its aims. Solid walls were replaced with glazed partitions and an upbeat glowing orange colour was painted across the floors, walls and ceilings of the centre, which connects the different spaces together.

Harriet Thorpe, Wallpaper

Ceilings – A new perspective

Just a few years ago the conversation between fit-out specialist, designer, end-user and client about ceilings would have been a short one, particularly in the commercial office sector. It wasn’t quite the Henry Ford line of ‘You can have whatever colour you want – as long as its black’ but it wouldn’t have been far off.

Ceilings were suspended and white. Maybe off-white. Tiles could be slightly bigger or slightly smaller whichever you preferred and there was a choice of manufacturing material. Mineral fibre or occasionally fibreglass. In short there wasn’t much choice. Nobody really considered the ceiling in the design. It was there to cover the slab soffit, untidily fixed and unsightly services and maybe absorb a bit of sound.

It’s all different now. Thanks to energy efficiency and the trend for open soffit ceilings as well as the study of the effects of acoustics and lighting on comfort and productivity, the possibilities for ceiling design is limitless – almost.

What is sure though is that clients, designers, acousticians and illumination engineers have taken on this brave new world and run with it. They have woken up to the myriad of finishes and colours, materials and contrasts that are available and applied them across all solutions including tiles, baffles, panels, cooling and lighting systems. This has encouraged manufacturers to produce a wider range of solutions in stock and as well as attractive, top of the range bespoke designs.

There are some great examples of ceiling systems that fully utilise the flexibility of materials available and quality of design excellence to which some clients are prepared to stretch. It went beyond the limit of what we thought was possible and pushed ceiling design and installation on to the next level.

Educated clients rightly expect the very best and are prepared to invest time and money into the design are few and far between – but that’s not to say those on tighter budgets shouldn’t expect similarly architecturally striking designs. There are plenty of products by various manufacturers that can deliver them and seemingly everyone is better educated about ceiling systems and what can be achieved now.

Different sectors will want different solutions and the key is to be flexible enough to be able to deliver those solutions, sometimes within the same office and part of the same contract. Firms working in traditionally staid industries such as law for example might recognise that it needs the chic, trendy clear soffit ‘industrial’ look for its main staff floors to attract younger workers who expect that working environment.

But in its client areas and meeting rooms the old, traditional look of wood and panelling is still expected. Their clients find it comforting. The delivery of a mixed scheme like that means that ceiling systems bought off the shelf may have to be mixed and matched to suit each client. It means manufacturers must be able to cope with a wider offering than they have at any time in the past, a challenge they have met ably so far.

For contractors and fit-out companies the supply chain needs to be flexible enough in what it can offer. Delivering that flexibility is key for all.