Burwell Architects have completed a sympathetic revitalisation of a prominent former Art Deco office building at the heart of London’s West End for Great Portland Estates plc. Having completed a light touch refurbishment on the building over ten years ago, the practice has been invited back with scope to undertake a more comprehensive refurbishment, this time to future proof the building with a focus on improving user experience and wellbeing.
Great care has been taken to ensure that interventions complement and enhance the original Art Deco building. Past alterations to the interior have been stripped back, with original features such as bespoke moulded architraves, brick walls, and riveted iron columns re-exposed and restored along the way.
Two reception areas have been remodelled and updated using a carefully curated material palate; patterned terrazzo floors, mirrored surfaces and brass detailing adds a touch of 1930s glamour to define public space. The main entrance on the ground floor is formal and symmetrical, featuring a sculptural terrazzo reception desk between two elegant, steel panelled porticos which frame visible office space beyond.
Within the courtyard pavilion lobby area to the rear of the building, partition walls have been removed to accommodate a relaxed seating area, suited for meeting, greeting and congregating. Providing a quirky reminder of the building’s past; heavy industrial roller doors which were once concealed within the walls, now provide a striking focal point within the space.
Accessed from the courtyard, an industrial lift opens onto a large bike store located on the lower ground floor. Replacing a redundant oil tanker on this level, an extensive suite of showers, changing rooms and lockers facilitate a healthy and sustainable commute to and from work.
On the lower ground floor, additional space has been reclaimed from existing vaults located beneath the pavement to accommodate new WCs. Occupants of this floor also have access to a revitalised sunken courtyard where a series of colourful aluminium fins conceal an existing car park and fixed planters provide a leafy backdrop to the new integrated seating.
Throughout the building, office spaces have been transformed through a series of simple steps; false ceilings have been removed to increase floor to ceiling heights, and existing roof lights have been refurbished to bring in soft, natural light. To accommodate potential growth, a secondary service core has been created to connect several floors, allowing tenants to expand their offices, yet remain self-contained.
On the roof, free space has been repurposed to provide additional, high quality breakout amenity for the buildings’ occupants. A fifth-floor office now benefits from private access to a new and beautifully landscaped roof terrace, complete with stepped seating and lush planting. A second, more generous roof terrace has been created on the sixth floor, providing tenants with an opportunity to meet other occupiers while taking in a piece of the central London roofscape.
Where possible, the building fabric and services have been upgraded to improve thermal efficiency and occupant comfort. With existing tenants in situ, not all office spaces were included as part of the refurbishment plans. A key challenge was therefore to sensitively upgrade the original fine metal windows with minimal visual impact upon the facades. As a result, original frames have been restored and fitted with individual micro double-glazed units.
Completed in July 2019, Burwell Architects have successfully brought back charm and life to this stunning Art Deco building, while providing high quality office and communal space for its occupants. With every office pre-let upon completion of the first phase, subsequent phases were delivered in such a way to enable new tenants to move in as soon as individual office refurbishments were finished.
"Together with our team of advisors, we have delivered another quality refurbishment that we are very proud of. The work has enhanced the building's historic features, whilst delivering first class office and amenity space designed to meet the needs of our occupants"
Rob Russell-Smith, Portfolio Manager, Great Portlands Estates plc
“Elsley is looking fantastic after all your efforts…..thank you, I love your designs. From the way the new entrance sequence works (feeling much less cluttered) to the cleaner materials used in the entrance on Great Titchfield St and the various terraces and open spaces, the whole building feels really special.”
Toby Courtald, Chief Executive, Great Portland Estates plc