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AIS design a workspace built for growth and flexibility

AIS worked in close collaboration with their fintech client, creating a varied space for the company’s rapidly growing team.

29/12/2020 3 min read

Project Team

  • Architect & Interior Designer

    AIS

  • Furniture

    Actiu, Bisley, CMD, Connection, Kinnarps, MDD, Meavo, Narbutas, Pledge, Workstories, Spacestor, Bisley

  • Flooring

    Karndean, Shaw Contract, Miliken, Amtico, Forbo

  • Surfaces

    Tektura, Solus, Howdens, Egger, Vescom

Reflecting their client’s business model, the design of the new 48,000 sq ft space was led by the desire for efficiency, creating a workplace for employees to collaborate easily and unwind without leaving the office.

Having worked with the client on several past projects, AIS started with a workplace study to further assess the requirements of the staff.

‘We arranged several design workshops on layouts and finishes and refined the design based on what we could do make the staff the heart of the space,’ says Dan Martin, Senior Designer. ‘The client really cares about each and every member of staff. So, making the space work for everyone was always at the heart of every meeting.’

The team’s wellbeing was at the heart of the design. There are various breakout areas and plenty of collaboration space at the end of every row of desks – using a ‘squad space’ format so that each team has a designated area to use for when they want a quick catch up rather than going to a meeting room. Wellbeing rooms with soft finishes and colours create a hospitality feel, and library spaces provide a quiet place to get away from the open plan, or work as a small team.

Located on the ground floor is a town hall style event space for up to 300 guests, with its own reception area as well as a catering kitchen and bar area for entertaining.

‘The events space is where all hands can really come together,’ says Dan. Of course, the tea point, large bleacher seating and easy stacking chairs from the near by furniture store are what actually make this possible – but the fun touches around the space show the playful side of the company and the culture they have created.

‘The Doughnut box (the large circular space with curved bleacher seating) provides a great view across London and a wonderful place to meet and eat lunch,’ Dan adds. AIS designed planters into the majority of the joinery, creating soft screens across the tea point that add biophilic life to the space.

In order to really embrace open plan working to its best potential, the AIS team introduced sliding and stacking acoustics screens in key areas, to visually separate and create intimate spaces. As the team expands and projects change the mobility of the panels allows the space to adapt without having to knock down walls, saving time and money later down the line.

‘Like every project there are various challenges, however being in the middle of a build when a global pandemic breaks out meant we had to find a way to adapt and change quickly – not only on the build side of the project to keep everyone safe, but also how we conducted client meetings and updates at key times in a project,’ Dan explains. ‘Keeping the lines of communication open with everyone, being transparent on the situation with the client and maintaining social distancing is how we overcame this. This certainly made any final design decisions seem easy and small in comparison!’

The finishes and furniture used within the scheme had to be durable, stylish but, most importantly, great value for money, says Dan. Everything that was chosen had a specific job – from single person phone booths with the option of standing or sitting to open high back seating used for semi-private informal meetings.

‘The meeting room tables were designed to work specifically for how the ‘squads’ function – which meant a dedicated power supply for everyone at the meeting whilst making sure the table didn’t end up like spaghetti junction,’ Dan adds. ‘But these are the unique challenges that make a job fun too! We also wanted to make sure the finishes used complemented their offices globally – so whichever office you are in it feels like home.’

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