Architecture and design studio Bluebottle undertook an ambitious refurbishment housed within The Gaslight, a unique Art Deco building.
Pioneering London-based architecture and design studio Bluebottle undertook an ambitious refurbishment for the new London office of venture capital firm Atomico. Niklas Zennström, Atomico founder, was seeking a new London home to accommodate his company’s mission and vision to invest in game-changing enterprises. Housed within The Gaslight, a unique Art Deco building on Rathbone Street, London W1, three floors and a mezzanine level were transformed into an office environment with high aspirations for longevity and wellbeing.
Photography: Ed Reeve
As an expanding company Atomico required a clear and functional design solution for their new headquarters which would retain the small company ethos while supporting their business partners’ needs. The client brief was to provide an innovative modern workspace for staff and founders that is multi-functional, inclusive and ranks highly in sustainability, occupant comfort and acoustics.
Adapting The Gaslight from a multi-tenanted building into a single occupier called for a radical and ambitious architectural intervention to ensure the vertical stacking and circulation gave a seamless visual connection through the floors while maximising the use of all available space. Creating a large opening for a central link in the heart of the building enhanced the sense of openness and transparency across each floor by allowing seamless transitions between collaborative social spaces and private working areas.
The introduction of a suspended hanging staircase created an open central circulation route which connects shared spaces on the ground and first floors, to more private spaces and meeting rooms on the upper floors. The new floorplan allows for flexibility by allowing for both meetings and events, fostering the exchange of ideas and driving creativity and collaboration.
Sustainability was at heart of the project, and the client wanted to focus on a data-driven approach to minimising energy consumption both in construction and throughout occupation. Working within the constraints of an existing building meant that some low carbon technologies were unsuitable and had to be addressed. Bluebottle worked closely with a wide team of experts including leading engineering and sustainability practice Max Fordham, which carried out extensive early-stage analysis to select appropriate technologies using an innovative design tool developed by the Energy Group at Cambridge University.
The sustainable design approach considered all travel-related energy (business and commuting), embodied energy, operational energy and construction site impacts for Atomico’s 10-year lease. The project has achieved Net Zero Carbon in Construction, in line with the UK Green Building Council’s Net Zero Carbon framework. Atomico is a Finalist at this year’s BCO awards under the Fit out of workplace category.
Frans Burrows, Founder and Director at Bluebottle says, “Our collaboration with Max Fordham sustainability consultants was crucial in making the most cost-effective, and impactful, energy reduction decisions for the project by using the results drawn by their innovative Energy Cost Metric tool. Our design has focused on how an office fit-out can best reduce the whole life energy use of the building and business. While the Cambridge design tool has been used on large-scale university projects, this is the first time the model is used in an office fit-out like ours.”
High impact materials, finishes and furniture were chosen for their Circular Economy value, such as solid wood floors, desking made of cabinetry that can be adapted and reused, and acoustic panels that can be reupholstered. Many lighting and furniture pieces were sourced from vintage suppliers.
Inclusivity is a core value of Atomico’s ethos and the new office space allows occupiers seamless transitions between collaborative social spaces to private working areas all with integrated high-quality acoustics, technology, consolidated services, and individually controlled spaces.
The scheme has had a positive influence on employees, giving an optimal workspace solution working from the office. The spaces are generous and feel safe to use during the ongoing Covid pandemic. Ample meeting areas, phone booths, plants, advanced integrated technology, well-stocked fridges, snacks, and access to fresh air contribute to the feeling of wellbeing in this office environment. Bluebottle also completed the redesign of Atomico’s café which follows the same ethical and sustainable principles as the workspaces.
At every stage of the project Atomico and Bluebottle have worked collaboratively to challenge the normal conventions of the office in terms of sustainability, acoustics, inclusion, design, and quality. The result of proactively interrogating these conventions has resulted in a beautifully crafted office space where the environment and users are put first.