Following the successful relocation to 15 Colmore Row in 2014, Cundall’s Birmingham office reached capacity in 2017 and so decided to expand by taking the fifth floor (in addition to the fourth).
Taking their award-winning London office as the springboard for the new design, Cundall has been both client and consultant on their inspirational office space in Birmingham city centre. Aiming for their second WELL Building Standard accreditation and the first one in the Midlands, Cundall continues to put staff and their physical and emotional wellbeing at the centre of their design.
Working alongside Studio Ben Allen, the architect used at the London office, Cundall designed the two floors with the primary aim of maintaining the level of collaboration previously enjoyed on a single floorplate. To achieve this, the architects and Cundall’s structural team designed the symbolic staircase linking the two floors. Not only does it physically connect the two floors but it creates a strong visual signifier for the unifying of the two levels. It promotes the health and wellbeing agenda by encouraging physical activity in the workplace. The design includes a stunning “plantelier” – a planted chandelier, which is suspended over the well of the staircase. The plants chosen will overflow the ring holding it, cascading downwards and climbing upwards at a rate of up to five metres per year. Cundall’s lighting design team has also designed twelve controllable spotlights around the perimeter of the installation which shine through the foliage and staircase. The lighting controls are able to change the path of the lights, casting shadows at different times of the day.
The fifth floor could have been designed from a blank canvas, but the existing office on the fourth floor had to be adapted and refurbished. This was made more challenging because the existing office had been refitted only three years previously (the result having won a BCO award). Materials have therefore been reused and re-purposed throughout the fit-out and expansion.
The fourth floor “Town Hall” acts as a meeting and social area for both floors, so needed to allow everyone to gather together simultaneously. This meant it had to be larger than originally envisaged and the kitchen area had to be rebuilt. Cundall’s specialist acoustic team have designed an audio system that has introduced soundscaping across the area, with the resulting birdsong and other natural sounds being a noticeable feature when visitors arrive.
The Colmore Row office design integrates the planting with the structural aspects of the space where it helps create areas of refuge and gives identity to the spaces. Biophilic design was a key feature.
The diversity of planting has been expanded; in the Town Hall area, larch planters hold a mix of high and low planting (small trees under planted with shrubs) to give a forest border feeling. Plants have been chosen to grow well in their allotted place, for example creepers have been chosen for higher level planting - to grow down and around the shelving units.
Awards: Cundall Staircase, Small Project/Practices Award, IStructE Midlands Counties Regional Group Awards 2018