Marks Barfield Architects transform 82 Baker Street

  • The new atrium connects the three buildings

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  • Glass and steel staircases connect the various floors

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  • The atrium features a ‘glass veil’ for privacy

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  • The ground floor lounge area

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  • The Giles Miller Studio was commissioned to create the Publicis Groupe’s logo lion head artwork

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  • Moroso furniture features in the main reception/’town hall’

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  • Moroso furniture features in the main reception/’town hall’

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Three buildings – one dating back to 1904 – have been transformed into a single cohesive office space.

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Project Info

Client: Lazari Investments
Architect: Marks Barfield Architects
Lead designer: Forme UK
Size: 6,782 sq m
Duration: Three years


Words by Emily Martin
Images by David Barbour

Forme UK and Marks Barfield Architects (MBA) have collectively adapted an iconic 1904 commercial building into contemporary office space. The project marks the third collaboration between the two practices, producing an energy and space-efficient open plan scheme, which includes a spectacular new atrium, interconnecting glass stairs and bio-diverse roof and roof terrace.

The project brief was to create a series of interlinked cohesive spaces within a former Marks & Spencer HQ, which occupied the building from the early 20th century and further developed it during the Thirties along with a neighbouring building. With the site owned by Lazari Investments, Forme UK designed the entire scheme while bringing in MBA to develop the atrium design, biodiverse roofs, terraces and facade. It's a natural union, it says.

Glass and steel staircases connect the various floors
Glass and steel staircases connect the various floors

'Forme UK and MBA have partnered on a few projects over the years... and know each other well,' explains Mark Twigg, partner at Forme UK. 'When Forme UK requires assistance on new build architectural elements to our schemes we would regularly partner with MBA due to the established working relationship we have nurtured over time.'

The team carried out several feasibility studies on behalf of the client before deciding on extensive structural amendments to the building.

It implemented design concepts complementing both the building's heritage and the design-branding requirements of the current tenant, PR company Publicis Groupe.

The atrium features a ‘glass veil’ for privacy
The atrium features a 'glass veil' for privacy

'The base-build interiors have subsequently been tailored to suit Publicis's brief,' explains Twigg. 'This has resulted in a design concept focusing on a non-corporate approach, with an underlying impression that a corporate office interior has somehow been "taken over", giving way to a highly creative and flexible interior space.'

The reception area is made up of Alba Pearla stone augmented with rough-sawn oak boards, while black basalt flooring has been flamed to create an internal street-like pavement.

The ground floor lounge area
The ground floor lounge area

A reception desk from Isomi has been adapted to incorporate the Publicis Groupe logo, and a state-of-the-art projection system and ninescreen video walls have been fitted to various locations throughout the space.

A striking lion head artwork from the Publicis Groupe logo was specially commissioned from the Giles Miller Studio. Comprising more than 12,000 individually crafted bronze ovalshaped 'pegs' cut at varying angles to create the lion figure, it features in the reception area.

The Giles Miller Studio was commissioned to create the Publicis Groupe’s logo lion head artwork
The Giles Miller Studio was commissioned to create the Publicis Groupe's logo lion head artwork

In the lower ground floors are the 'brainstorming rooms', which see a large light slot carved out of the floor on the main Baker Street facade, to increase natural daylight.

Directly off the reception space is a client entertaining area, which comprises a flexible bar/cafe area with a kitchen and breakout zones. The bar is finished in plexwood with a Corian top and flooring from Bolon..

On the sixth floor a new presentation suite has been added with several multifunction presentation rooms, a fully fledged entertainment room and bar with access to new roof terraces.

Finishes to the sixth floor emulate those of the ground-floor reception area, with the whole space adaptable for a major function or as individual presentation and pitching rooms.

Moroso furniture features in the main reception/’town hall’
Moroso furniture features in the main reception/'town hall'

The newly accessible roof garden, with its wildflower meadow of 24 native plant species selected by an ecologist, bat boxes and bird boxes for swifts, sparrows and black redstarts among other feathered visitors, create an oasis of biodiversity in the middle of the city. It's a tranquil staff a getaway with spectacular views over London's roof tops.

Crucially the building functions as a whole and has ease of access, thanks to the connecting features. 'The building now has a heart at its centre in the form of the new atrium and interconnectivity between each wing, and as a result is much more contiguous', says Twigg of the new glass atrium and bridges.

Moroso furniture features in the main reception/’town hall’
Moroso furniture features in the main reception/'town hall'

The atrium provides a hub linking the three original buildings, the 1904 one being designed by Robert Lutyens as the Marks & Spencer HQ, while bridges at the second, third and fourth levels create physical links between the three. The atrium is made up of a frameless double-glazed system with an interstitial voile fabric to function as a 'veil'. The veil adds a degree of privacy for views in and out while providing a bright and airy space at the building's heart.

The building's facade has been enhanced by a deep-clean of the stonework and replacing existing windows with sound-proof units, the appearance of which are in keeping with the building's contemporary features. Julia Barfield, managing director of MBA, says: 'Researching the history of the building enabled us to understand its original architectural intent, which had been eroded and forgotten through years of inappropriate decoration. We were delighted to be able to restore its external appearance to its former glory, with its clear hierarchy of vertical elements and fine Portland stone detailing; and give it back its dignity and architectural gravitas.'

Suppliers

Lighting
Delta Light

Flooring
Milliken carpet
Bolon
Gareth Davies Stone

Furniture
Isomi
Moroso

Joinery
dealerward

Surfaces
Focus ceramics

Artwork
Giles Miller Studio





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