The Eighties’ interiors of the Northern and Shell building are updated by Resonate, with a mix of private offices and co-working spaces for its new tenants
Words by Ellen Peirson
Images by Philip Vile
Once home to Richard Desmond’s media empire Northern and Shell, 10 Lower Thames Street was completed in 1985; towering over the River Thames, the building made sure Northern and Shell’s presence was felt both in the country’s print and City fabric.
Northern and Shell published a contentious selection of titles. From the gossip-laden pages of some of the countries biggest tabloids to more lurid top-shelf magazines, the reflective blue edifice was held up by an array of unwanted connotations. As Desmond sold off some of his biggest titles, many of the vast media offices were rendered redundant and the lease on floors four to 10 was sold to Halkin Group. To make these spaces suitable and attractive for new tenants, the interiors needed an overhaul, shedding the associations with their past life.
A bronze sculpture and water feature sit in the atrium, a left-over from the building’s previous incarnation
Now, in this monumental building which unforgettably rises from the River Thames, Halkin Group tasked Resonate with the job of renewing these dated Eighties interiors for a new group of tenants in a mix of co-working spaces and private offices.
Retaining the primary structure and materiality, Resonate’s most important intervention was to transform the extensive atrium that transcends the 10-floor building.
Although immense, the space was architecturally busy and over-lit. Resonate applied a two-way film to the expansive atrium walls in two different colours to control the light pouring through the glass curtain walls. Retaining the dramatic materiality of the facade, Resonate introduced a more understated interior. The existing pink granite throughout the ground floor was replaced with a white Carrara marble, introducing a much cleaner, brighter surface.
Reception desk inside the soaring atrium is fronted by a darker marble to contrast with the new lighter coloured flooring
On entering this atrium, a large bespoke reception desk greets you to one side, in a darker marble to complement the new flooring. On the other side, a 9m-wide green wall stretches up, with a water feature and bronze sculpture set in front of it, a hangover from the original building, grounding it in its past so as not to ignore it. Descending from the ceiling is a delicate chandelier in Murano glass, which adds a subtle intrigue, but not to the extent of the previous dated interiors. Among these subtle interventions are informal seating areas. These culminates in an exclusive club feel upon entering the building.
Rising up this atrium space are the six original wall-climbing lifts, refurbished to match the new materiality. These allow visitors to reach up into the mammoth atrium space and see it from a different perspective – transporting them to the office floors above.
Catering to a range of different tenants, Resonate has created unique spaces to inject identity into what could otherwise be a monotonous set of spaces, lacking character. Level 4 is a dedicated co-working space, in which tenants are treated to a library, a lounge and a fireplace. This space spills out on to a large terrace, with an exceptional view over the Thames, fitted out to make a perfect space for entertaining or to relax away from the office.
Breakout space for casual working
Climbing up the building, the views from each terrace become more impressive in the standard serviced-office spaces of the floors above. On floors 6 and 7, although not a co-working space, there will be multiple occupants on each floor. Resonate has employed black-framed partitioning to cordon off space for multiple occupants and meeting rooms. Bold wall graphics are printed on to these, varying in design to distinguish between the spaces and create something memorable.
Outside of these partitions are informal breakout spaces to allow chance encounters between colleagues and different businesses. The 10th floor with the most striking view over the City of London will remain a private office, redesigned by Resonate to be the most luxurious, to suit the most sought-after floorspace, fitted out in muted Italian tones and completely refurnished.
Today, the office spaces are almost unrecognisable – almost. The outdated Eighties interiors, draped in shades of pink, terracotta and brown are long since gone for a modern, stylish scheme. But peering through the windows into the expansive atrium, and out on the terraces, overlooking over the iconic London skyline, we still catch glimpses of the bold blue structure that Richard Desmond grew out of the Thames as if from nothing. Resonate has designed a scheme that does not turn its back on its past – but intervened with something more elegant and up-to-date.
Client: Halkin Group
Designer: Resonate Interior Architecture
Area: approx 9,290 sq m
David Village lighting
Signage and graphics