Universal Design Studio has redefined the corporate lobby as a welcoming, public space within British Land's first net carbon development, 100 Liverpool Street
Corporate lobbies can sometimes feel like train concourses: animatedly busy for the rush hour in the morning, but soulless and empty once all the bodies have decanted into their offices. At 100 Liverpool Street, Universal Design Studio has created entrances and lobbies that can not only handle the twice-daily hustle and bustle but feel welcoming at any time of day, thanks to a combination of amenities, art and data analytics to anticipate how spaces would be used.
“Even though 100 Liverpool Street is a private office building, it will house 5,000 workers and also contains a major transit artery to and from Liverpool Street station, with huge lobbies and concourses and ancillary spaces,” says Carly Sweeney, associate director at Universal Design Studios. “We wanted to create something that could be an antidote to the traditional corporate lobby space…we wanted to move away from the idea of these spaces as cold, formal, intimidating, transient zones, and worked hard on injecting some soul back into the designs.”
Visitors are first greeted by an inviting cafe bar rather than the usual formal monolithic reception desk. The flow of people is guided by a series of ‘tracks’ – inspired by the former Broad Street station on the same site – on the floor, mapping out the circulation routes; they snake around a semicircular desk in orange lacquer, backed by a curved acoustic screen and a seating area for waiting guests. The siting of these ‘anchor’ areas – the coffee bar, desk and an espresso bar – were mapped out with the help of data analysts, to work out how people would move across the concourse. Whitewashed oak panelling lines the escalator walls, leading to a further second-floor concourse.
We wanted to create something that could be an antidote to the traditional corporate lobby space…we wanted to move away from the idea of these spaces as cold, formal, intimidating, transient zones
A piece of public art by ceramicist Lubna Chowdhary brings colour and craftsmanship to the north lobby, the busiest route into the building. Twenty ceramic pieces have been slotted into the vertical concrete panels that line the route. With their intense colour and graphic patterns, it’s easy to see how Tottenham Court Road station’s mosaics by Eduardo Paolozzi – Chowdhary’s former tutor – were one of the reference points. “Art should be an integral part of designing public space, not a cherry on the cake,” says Sweeney.
This is British Land’s first net zero carbon development, with Hopkins Architects having been tasked with significantly extending and rebuilding the existing 1980 office block. Retaining some of the existing steelwork and foundations has meant a lower carbon count than building anew, alongside lower-carbon choices such as the use of recycled aggregates; the balance was offset by supporting planting projects.