BCO Midlands and East Anglia Award 2010
By 2008 Associated Architects had outgrown its office premises in Birmingham city centre and undertook a search for a property where the business could introduce transformational change and allow for a further ten years of growth. The practice rapidly settled on a vacant part of The Mailbox, which it designed in 1998-99.
The practice has long promulgated leading workplace practice as promoted by the BCO and implemented this for its clients. The practice engaged in a briefing and design process informed through extensive staff consultation. Staff design reviews and building visits helped to build shared values and foster a collective sense of ownership of the ambitions for a new workplace. In bringing these objectives together it was also to be a showcase for its own design abilities.
The tall industrial space has been retained as found for the main studio, with a highly resolved part inserted into it to accommodate client facing spaces such as meeting rooms. A metal stair provides access to a meeting, library and resources mezzanine space. The rear of the studio connects with a galley kitchen and social space, separated from one of the meeting rooms by a vertical sliding wall to allow large gatherings for internal design review and for lectures / seminars. The galley kitchen has become the social hub for the office: with flexible tables and seating it is also used for design reviews and working. Dedicated print and server rooms, toilets and kitchen are provided behind the rear wall of the studio space.
The main studio space is furnished with beam desking and an entire storage wall for project work. Each staff member has a container for personal items, kept in a stack of lockers. These have been well used from the outset, ensuring that desks are kept clear.
The existing steel frame and precast concrete soffit have been exposed and painted. Partitions are formed incorporating low and high level glazed screens to the meeting rooms, with coloured glass wall cladding in the reception area, galley kitchen and toilets. A raised access floor, faced with rubber tiles, accommodates the ventilation displacement system.