The flexible office provider The Office Group (TOG) has recently taken three floors in One Canada Square
The Office Group (TOG) occupies the seventh, eighth and ninth floors of One Canada Square, which was designed by the late César Pelli and completed in 1991.
Standing 235m high and currently the UK’s third-tallest building, the tower’s established design language is demonstrably corporate with liberal use of glass, stainless steel and figured stone that has aged to become an icon of its own typology. TOG and dMFK have delivered a working environment within it that celebrates the positive characteristics and materiality of the building while creating a sequence of human-scale spaces that feel intimate and warm through the careful use of texture and craft within the upholstery, joinery, and use of specific floor finishes to denote different working areas.
The reinvigoration of the TOG space in One Canada Square by dMFK has focused on the creation of linear avenues and streets – connecting the four directional views from each side of the building – and flooding each of the floors with light, activating even the centremost parts of the building. The three floors are connected by a dramatic new staircase to create natural circulation among TOG clients and provide access to the full range of amenities without reliance on the main passenger lifts. From the reception you are drawn towards the main avenue and the new staircase that has been positioned within the structural soft spot used by the original tower crane, overcoming the challenge of introducing a new multi-storey void within a tall building.
The geometric rigour of the building was used to develop the design concept. The stepped external corner and existing window datums are expressed in new glazed screens, timber panelling modules and interior joinery language. Architects dMFK drew inspiration from the mid-century era of Phillip Johnson and Mies van der Rohe, a nostalgic reference to the heroic period of American corporate interior design. Stylistically, the new interior references the materiality and tonal quality of the original building foyer, using rich figured terrazzo, mid-toned sapele timber panelling, and painted metalwork to create a welcoming, tactile and crafted working environment. The space has been transformed from its anonymous predecessor, combining the essence of mid-century modern design, with the graphic precision of Italo interiors to create a sophisticated workplace with a hint of 1970s warmth.
Mid-toned sapele timber panelling has been used in the interior. Image Credit: Gilbert McCarragher
The three floors are now an inviting, light-filled space that offer TOG clients flexible offices that cater for companies from one to over 110 people. Each floor provides a selection of design-led meeting rooms all with a different feel, bespoke communal lounge and recharge areas, co-working and breakout spaces, phone booths, and a podcast and recording studio. Members also benefit from an on-site gym and fitness studio with a dedicated Peloton bike area, and an in-house cafe serving seasonal and locally sourced food.
The refurbishment introduced a number of complex joinery elements that have been CNC-machined and prefabricated off-site. Linoleum-faced joinery in various colours combined with the sapele detailing, and a range of Kvadrat fabrics has been crafted to achieve an exceptional finish to shared areas, with a strong focus on fitted furniture to control the interior and the quantity of loose furniture. Lighting has been custom-designed by dMFK to reinforce the geometry of the common parts while activating the depth of the plan. These items have then been carefully delivered and installed within the fully operational tower via the three goods lifts serving all 50 floors. The construction process required careful management and coordination by the design team and main contractor to ensure it minimised impact to tenants, with large items like the stair delivered and installed with minimal on-site welding. A rigorous approvals process was required by Canary Wharf Group and London Borough of Tower Hamlets Building Control, leading to regular meetings that helped ensure compliance, safety and buildability within a challenging high-rise environment. New air-handling units have also been installed on the north-west corner of each floor to increase fresh air capacity as a result of increased subdivision.
The project has been well received by Canary Wharf Group, TOG and their tenants, successfully complementing the building’s iconic status and serious context while offering softer, welcoming spaces. The building provides a sequence of different agile working environments that allow clients to select a space that suits a particular task, from larger social discussions and meetings to private, focused work. TOG and dMFK have used the avenues and streets within the depth of the plan to help deliver this variety of workspace while also maintaining a visual connection to the external environment to help to alleviate the problems typically associated with deep plan office buildings.
Interiors: dMFK Architects
Structural engineer: Eckersley O’Callaghan
M&E engineer: EEP
Fire engineer: ARUP