The rundown building has been turned into a multi-purpose workspace, celebrating its origins while providing comfort
Words by Emily Martin
Architect: Fathom Architects
Client: The Crown Estate
Budget: not available
Project size: 625 sq m
Duration: two years
ARCHITECTURE PRACTICE Fathom has delivered an imaginative retrofit of a disused 1970s building for its client The Crown Estate. 6 Babmaes Street, London, is designed as an office space for an evolving office landscape. Its function is a new concept for the client, which will use the space for events, working, networking and well-being activities. A far cry from a traditional office environment.
Design inspiration was taken from the heritage of the surrounding St James’s area as well as art and furniture from the 1970s. The raw concrete shell of the existing building is combined with finely crafted interiors to create a characterful urban sanctuary with a variety of spaces for staff.
A view towards the building’s entrance showcasing the 1970s-inspired decor. Image Credit: JAMES BALSTON
There are commissioned rugs, paintings and murals featuring geometric shapes and bold colours. Spaces include a wellness studio (doubling as a space for exhibitions or pop-up events), banquette seating booths, meeting rooms, dining spaces, lounge areas and a 200 sq m roof terrace with planted screens and festoon lighting. Connections to nature and tactile finishes as well as a mixture of vintage and contemporary furniture are the main themes to this project, which creates a welcoming atmosphere in a non-conventional office setting.
‘Offices are no longer places for autonomous screen-based work – that can just as easily be done at home,’ says Harry Godfrey, associate at Fathom. ‘Workspaces are increasingly about teamwork and culture. This fundamental shift in the function of offices needs a new approach to nurture these aspects. A space which is calm, comfortable and relaxed – an antidote to the distractions of a traditional workplace – with fewer desks and more areas for shared activities to promote conversation, collaboration and well-being.’
One of the many social spaces available, blending workspace with peaceful social interaction. Image Credit: JAMES BALSTON
Fathom’s approach is an intelligent reuse in line with BREEAM and WELL principles, preserving the main structure to avoid unnecessary demolition and minimise costly interventions. Its adaptations to the building include improved circulation, new glazed roof lights, a rooftop terrace and a refreshed facade in a distinctive sage green render.
The building refurbishment maximises natural light throughout with large windows and newly created rooflights, enhanced with greenery at high and low levels to create connections with nature.
The natural aesthetic of the artwork allows for a peaceful look that utilises bold, vibrant colours. Image Credit: JAMES BALSTON
The entrance to 6 Babmaes Street features a grid of turquoise and white terrazzo floor tiles, with a curved timber reception desk and arrival lounge setting the tone for the spaces above.
Concierge, lockers and changing rooms are provided, plus a function room for regular wellness classes, exhibitions, talks and pop-up events.
Artist Sophie Coe created three artworks inspired by seascapes for the ground floor wellness space, each approached in a different way and with different techniques to create a sense of escape and calm.
On the first floor, informal co-working spaces are created in a series of intimate seating areas at high and low levels. Four booths with sage green banquettes feature high level planting and large-scale bespoke artworks commissioned from artists Coe and another local artist, Rob Crabtree.
The second-floor lounge space offers a laidback experience. Image Credit: JAMES BALSTON
Coe’s 1970s-inspired triptych echoes the interior design. Crabtree’s series of site-specific murals, with motifs drawn from the building and interiors, are applied to the walls in the first-floor seating area and rooftop Potting Shed.
Above the banquettes, a continuous rooflight washes the walls with natural light. Opposite the booths, a series of rooms enclosed with textured glass and timber screens provide formal space for meetings, as well as two phone booths characterised by geometric patterned cork tiles.
‘The greenery and new rooflights have brought a freshness to this part of the building that was originally devoid of natural light,’ explains Godfrey. ‘I also love the little touches such as each mural in this space referencing the colour palette of the meeting room it sits opposite to.’
The concrete shell contrasts with refined wood and metalwork. Image Credit: HARRY GODFREY
The second floor offers a more convivial lounge space for people to relax and socialise, planned as a series of comfortable seating areas with oak strip flooring, large rugs and a mixture of vintage and contemporary furnishings and objects.
Sliding timber and glass partitions allow flexibility, and an open-plan kitchenette with a generous shared table offers opportunities for communal dining.
‘6 Babmaes Street is designed for all the stuff that happens away from your computer screen, so we wanted to create something that felt homely in nature. It’s a space full of natural light, plants and inspiring art and objects,’ explains Godfrey.
‘We looked at different ways that people come together – from intimate conversations and formal meetings to communal dining and group well-being activities – and created a variety of spaces in which these activities could take place. It’s designed to encourage interaction, connection and well-being whether in the ground floor wellness studio, lounge or dining spaces, or outside on the rooftop terrace.’
Specialist Joinery Group
Dyfed Richards Limited
Furniture and furnishings
Republic of Living
Friends & Founders
Rob Crabtree (Aspire Artwork)