White Red Architects complete striking office refurbishment in the heart of Covent Garden
Shoreditch-based architecture practice White Red Architects has completed 12-13 Henrietta Street which comprises the refurbishment of speculative office space for client Royal London. The 9,000 sq ft workspace includes a new reception and common parts, taking inspiration from the surroundings and the nearby London Transport Museum, as well as office space spread across three floors.
The historic building underwent a complete makeover while retaining its original features; a stronger character that would connect it positively with the people working at 12 Henrietta Street. Deciding to step back from the traditional approach of focussing on the office floor plate, the architects instead designed the shared reception as the centre of the proposal.
“We didn’t want this to be just another indistinct, speculative office project”, said Joe Haire, director at White Red Architects. “There was an opportunity in this historic building to tackle the challenge of office refurbishment differently and create something that prospective users might be really fond of. We were determined to adopt a daring design in this prestigious location and were grateful that our client embraced this approach.”
Visible from the street and the first space visitors enter, the shared reception room forms an important part of the building. Designed to double-up as both a traditional reception, controlling the flow of people into the building, as well as a space that invites you to wait, to socialise or work, the reception makes for a natural extension of the office spaces above.
Meanwhile, colour and shape have been used to add character. Racing green – already present throughout much of Covent Garden – has been carried through the building in paint, floor resin, handmade tiles and acoustic panels, linking the spaces together. The distinctive arches that line the reception come from the beautiful Victorian ironwork of the semi-circular green windows of the London Transport Museum nearby.
A further central attribute of the office floors is the racing green ductwork with golden ‘top hat’ diffusers against the structure of the concrete waffle slab above. White Red Architects worked closely with the M&E consultant to design and model every conduit, duct and detector. The services are fed by a central spine running down the centre of the long floor plates, concealed with a raft of acoustic panels, the latter made entirely from recycled plastic bottles.
The fit-out and finish of the two office floors were approached differently. The third floor is finished more traditionally without colour, whilst the second floor is finished in full colour and includes meeting rooms, floor finishes, kitchen, desks, sofas and storage. The furniture and furnishings have been selected in line with the character of the design and offer something bold and adventurous in what is typically a very reserved office market.
“Royal London are delighted to be bringing office space at 12 Henrietta Street to the market with a unique and striking design which includes a fully refurbished reception, two high quality office floors, one of which is fully fitted out, together with new shower and bike storage facilities”, said Will Hawking, senior asset manager at Royal London.
“White Red Architects and the team have created a characterful and contemporary refurbishment that takes inspiration from the historic local context of Covent Garden giving the building a new lease of life.”
Images courtesy of White Red Architects and Royal London