Text description provided by the architects. It's not simply a coincidence that visiting the new London headquarters of global management consultant Deloitte Consulting is like checking into five-star boutique accommodation. The spectacular workplace, designed by Mackay + Partners, is intended to be used just like a hotel.
Only the administration and support staff of Deloitte Consulting are based permanently in the building, Athene Place on London's Shoe Lane. All consultants, managers and partners have roving briefs, and are often based at clients' offices, or at Braxton's other sites in the UK or overseas. Yet everyone needs to make use of the London base, for individual work, meetings or group projects.
Mackay + Partners were given the challenge of conceiving an interior that could allow staff to ‘book' workspace over the internet, and project the company's brand image. In addition, the design needed to attract Deloitte's staff to make full use of the building, promoting interaction between employees. Plans evolved through a ‘visioning' day which showed Deloitte Consulting how its premises could help communicate the brand and drive its business, workshops with staff and by interviewing a broad cross-section of the company's staff.
The results, arranged over five floors of a 14,000 sq m building designed by architect EPR, are astounding. ‘The design language is light and bright. Colour, combined with natural elements such as timber and stone, plus the use of strong graphics, together lend the interior a calm and contemporary feel,' explains Mackay + Partners', senior designer Gavin Harris.
The hotel experience begins in the cavernous reception, with its 4.8m floor-to-ceiling height. The terrazzo floor peels away to form a sensuously curved reception desk - where staff are offered hotel-style facilities such as travel and accommodation reservations. Dominating the lobby is a powder-coated metal tube which houses a meeting room and restroom, while the base of an eight storey atrium is reserved for the ‘branding blade', a huge shard of glass, backlit with changing colours, which features interactive plasma screens displaying company information.
Imposing sandstone columns, floor-inset LED lighting, Coconut chairs from Vitra, and a Superarchimoon lamp from Flos combine to crank up the hotel style.
A screen of vivid red-painted reeds not only conceals a suite of 11 conference rooms, which are clad in glass and shot-blasted oak, but also is shaped to form a series of mini meeting areas. Lifts leading to the working floors continue the natural theme; the elevator lobbies feature a towering mural of a tree, with the roots at ground floor level and treetop and sky on the eighth storey. Lavatories also feature giant images from nature, as well as custom-made glass cubicles (yellow for girls, green for boys), Corian sinks and Philippe Starck-designed fittings.
Each office floor is cantered on a hub of casual seating and two pods - one ‘wet' for tea-making and one ‘dry' for photocopying. From this central space radiate two wings of workspace; at the core of each is a suite of demountable offices and meeting rooms (Unifor Progetto from Ergonom), while desking in the perimeter zone - Herman Miller's Abak system - is arranged in a variety of configurations to suit different-sized groups. In addition, a non-bookable touchdown strip runs around the external boundary of each floor.
The top level has a different configuration, devoted to executive offices and a meeting area with dramatic views over the London skyline. Features include a custom-made oak reception desk echoing the shape of the one on the ground floor, and a dramatic block of meeting rooms, contained underneath a swooping timber surface. Limited edition floor standing Alessi vases add an element of contemporary art.
Throughout the building, services such as ventilation have been tucked away on top of meeting rooms, removing the need for suspended ceilings and maximising the feeling of space. Clarity is maintained by a strict clear desk policy; each employee has 1m of storage space and their belongings are retrieved when they book in. With so much space and style, Deloitte's offices are giving the world's leading designer hotels a run for their money.