Retail's magnificent showcase in Manchester

SpaceInvader’s new 2,000 ft2 boutique workspace for Manchester-based Tosca Debt Capital


Interior design
Enigma lighting
Lamorbey Associates
Hayche; Muuto; Ferm Living; Menu; Normann Copenhagen; Another Brand
Moveable AV screen
Boss Design

TOSCA DEBT CAPITAL is a financial services company that brings additional, complementary debt funding options to regional markets, giving SMEs – particularly those across the Northern Powerhouse – access to institutional capital to help to drive entrepreneurial ambitions. It also has a London office, but the new Manchester hub on John Dalton Street is very much the company’s main HQ.

Tosca Debt Capital worked with SpaceInvader to create its boutique workspace. Image credit: SG PHOTOGRAPHY
Tosca Debt Capital worked with SpaceInvader to create its boutique workspace. Image credit: SG PHOTOGRAPHY

The building originally dates from 1865 and was built as a showroom for James Lamb (Lamb of Manchester), a cabinetmaker and significant name in the aesthetic movement. The seven-storey building was refurbished by OMI Architects for developer/owner Helical, adding nearly 10,000ft2 to the building with a new double-height reception and an existing atrium infilled, as well as a rooftop extension with roof terraces on the fifth and seventh floors. The refurbishment was highly commended at the BCO Awards and shortlisted for Insider’s Refurbishment of the Year.

The overall space occupied by Tosca within the scheme is a fifth floor split suite, with access to one of the roof terraces.

Project ambitions

‘Tosca is a very forward-thinking and successful finance sector business, with a real sense of quality and style’, SpaceInvader founder John Williams commented. ‘It was important for them that their people could be together at their best and so the overall brief was for a lot of different spatial typologies within the 2,000ft2 overall space on the fifth floor of the Trinity building’.

The client’s brand values were defined as ‘experienced, professional and knowledgeable, reliable and responsive and relationship-driven’. SpaceInvader’s approach was to create an interior that would reflect Tosca as a forward-facing professional company, without any kind of faddy or trend-led concept, but creating instead an understated, high-quality scheme with muted, warm tones and high levels of bespoke joinery and craftsmanship to communicate a quiet and sophisticated feel.

The staff teapoint includes write-on walls for unexpected collaboration. Image credit: SG PHOTOGRAPHY
The staff teapoint includes write-on walls for unexpected collaboration. Image credit: SG PHOTOGRAPHY

‘In many ways, this project is a vision of what the future workspace will be for many companies,’ Williams added. ‘This is a client who has moved away from a traditional office and who briefed for a space to fit current and future needs, where the workspace becomes a hub, not only for them, but for clients too and for the businesses whose boards they serve on, with the space able to perform a multitude of tasks, ranging from meetings to focused work, one-to-one and larger collaborations, with enough space for project pin-ups and reviews, as well as spaces for breakout, hospitality and entertainment.’

The space

The overall space is comprised of a fifth floor split suite, with access to a roof terrace. With a prime position overlooking Manchester’s city centre, the outlook and additional external terrace give the space a natural focal point. Key views were to be enhanced throughout through considered framing both in the interior spaces and out to the exterior urban landscape. To ensure views out were maximised, along with natural light ingress, the majority of the space was kept open plan with joinery used to divide areas without blocking views.

The boardroom is the most formal area in the scheme. Image credit: SG PHOTOGRAPHY
The boardroom is the most formal area in the scheme. Image credit: SG PHOTOGRAPHY

As Tosca’s former offices were fairly basic, this was a real opportunity for reinvention and the process involved a high-level of engagement with a very hands-on client owner. A strong vision emerged from that, followed by thorough engagement with the wider Tosca team to ensure no needs, functions or aspirations had been missed and that everyone had bought into the direction of the project. Everyone embraced this collaborative process and SpaceInvader produced everything from hand-drawn sketches to full 3D digital environments to make sure the designs fitted that vision exactly.

Key elements included an immediate sense of arrival, straight into an area where people naturally come together; plenty of moveable screens so that meetings could be held anywhere in the office; great spaces for collaboration as well as spaces for the company’s partners; great IT; great refreshment facilities and comfortable, residential styling for a home-from-home feel.

The material treatment included warm timber tones; blue and auburn upholstery finishes and a feature deep blue paint finish set against the predominant neutral off-white. There are also neutral and textured wallpapers; deep blue and mottled grey acoustic finishes; carpet tiles in a mixture of charcoal grey and beige and a surface finishes, including marble, grey and black laminate, along with black-stained ply.

The business lounge feel is elegant, neutral and natural with feature joinery storage and a shelving unit with acoustic panel infills, providing framed views through and beyond to Manchester’s skyline. Curved lounge chairs from Hayche and occasional tables by Muuto and Ferm Living create a comfortable visitor setting upon arrival, whilst artwork and dressing items provide visual interest.

The food and beverage area features a curved light fitting, suspended over a high informal meeting table and a mix of marble/stone and timber textures, combined with matt colours, for a contemporary and timeless materiality. Black-legged meeting table chairs are the Harbour Counter Chair by Menu, upholstered in a grey Kvadrat fabric. This space also features ‘stepped’ coving with integrated LED strip lighting and textured wallpaper to connect with the central joinery and frame the elevation. Corner glazing creates purposeful, framed views into the meeting rooms. The area also contains a moveable AV screen from Boss Design set on an upholstered furniture unit, for when the space is needed for presentations.

The boardroom is the most formal area in the scheme and features executive meeting chairs and an oak boardroom table set on three conical-shaped legs, with integrated power, from Andreu World. A feature curved light fitting is suspended over meeting table, while linear-formed acoustic tiles with chamfered edge details frame the AV screen and provide a sound absorbing finish. An oak-finish credenza in the space is by Another Brand. Feature ‘stepped’ coving with integrated LED strip light and deep blue wall paint matches the acoustic panels and ties the elevation and materiality together.

The scheme is located on the fifth floor of the Trinity Building in Manchester. Image credit: SG PHOTOGRAPHY
The scheme is located on the fifth floor of the Trinity Building in Manchester. Image credit: SG PHOTOGRAPHY

For the main open plan space, furniture includes smart desking furniture with warm timber tops and a black leg accent finish, plus a feature shelving screen with low-level cupboards and acoustic panels. Stained ply joinery panels form divides to the booth-style seating with fixed upholstered seat backs. The space also features an informal high meeting table with integrated power and a wall-mounted AV screen with write-on, wipeable wallpaper for collaboration and presentation, with a dozen counter height chairs from Normann Copenhagen.

Gary Davison, partner at Tosca Debt Capital, commented on the final result: ‘The final design is strategic and truly reflects our culture and identity. It’s exactly what we were looking for: warm and welcoming for both our team and our clients and with a seamless spatial flow. The look is crisp and sophisticated and, most importantly, offers us as a business the future-proofed flexibility we need to move forward.’

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