Award-winning workplace interiors suggest new directions

What are the new design contours of the post-pandemic office? The best British workplace environments in the 2021 DesignWeek Awards are a good place to look

As the design contours of the post-pandemic workplace begin to emerge, early clues to the shape of things to come can be found in the recognition given to workplace interiors projects in the UK’s 2021 DesignWeek Awards, which explored ideas around innovation, inclusion, theatre and heritage.

In an echo of the current business drive to ramp up in-person innovation with the reopening of offices, the top DesignWeek workplace award went to the first of a national network of purpose-built innovation hubs, Plus X Brighton, designed by Studio Egret for U+I.

The 53,000 sq ft space across seven storeys aims to support innovation across all sectors, and features offices, workshops and recording studios. A triple-height atrium is linked by a series of unfolding bridges and stairs to encourage circulation through the building, which is clad in yellow aluminium and warm birch-ply.

Encouraging inclusion

Shortlisted entries to the award scheme, which is judged by leading designers, included the office of Open Society Foundations in London, designed by TP Bennett. This organisation describes itself as ‘the world’s largest private funder of independent groups working for justice, democratic governance and human rights’ – and its new London offices needed to reflect its strong core values of ‘tolerance, accountability and integrity’ in its design. The space encourages cooperation and interaction throughout, reflecting the wider theme of diversity and inclusion for the future workplace.

Theatrical flourish

Chapter Living Old Street, designed by Tigg+Coll Architects for Greystar Europe, adopted a different approach. Its commended interior took its inspiration from the history of theatre. The design team discovered that Shakespeare’s original theatre company was located just around the corner from the site in 1597.

This starting point pushed the team to consider theatre throughout the ages, and Chapter Living Old Street boasts Art Deco and 1950s cinema references as a result.

Finally, the Fjord Building by Ben Adams Architects shows what can be achieved with a sensitive refurbishment of an existing building, revealing its industrial heritage by exposing its concrete and steel structures. The interiors are described as ‘industrial chic fused with a Scandinavian aesthetic’.

More on the 20231 DesignWeek Awards here.

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