Externally a nondescript brick and sash windowed envelope over a 6m concrete frame. Internally what was a cellular collection of offices and file storage forming the labyrinthine legacy of the former ARCUK is now a great new office space.The initial brief for ARB’s offices was not just in recognition of the practical need for a modern workplace, updating an inadequately serviced poor spatial arrangement, but to recognise the importance of a new openess and accessibility in the organisation for the profession and public. The brief called for the opposite of what was existing, ie ARB’s offices should be transparent, fresh, friendly, lean, modern and serious.The design response has been to make a new Weymouth Street entrance (and hence address), remove as many internal doors and walls as possible, and to provide a continuous flexible open plan working environment with an ‘island’ service core and boardroom.
All services and data are re-routed into a prefabricated under-floor heating and cooling system. The ceiling is notable for carrying nothing but light reflection, a white mirror. When the Board are not sitting, the boardroom divides into meeting rooms for staff, architects, students, public and press alike.
Photography © Alex de Rijke