A new and innovative commercial venture in the City of London, The Brand Exchange has just opened in a refurbished Grade II Listed building in Birchin Lane.
Steeped in history, character and elegant architectural features the building is located south of The Royal Exchange near Bank Station, amongst some of London’s oldest bars and restaurants.
The Brand Exchange is a prestigious, exclusive members club and events space which offers membership to senior brand, finance and marketing professionals from the world’s strongest and most valuable brands. Billed as a place ‘where brands meet finance’ it is an important London new business venue which will broaden the mix of social and economic activity in this corner of the City.
The refurbishment project to create the new venue was carried out for Brand Finance. Main contractors were Square Metre; architects were Platform 5 Architects; interior designers were Adfecto and project manages were Paribas Real estate.
David Haigh CEO of Brand Finance plc, owners of Brand Exchange said:
“Brand Finance is the largest independent brand valuation company in the world and we were looking for a new office in London when we were presented with this opportunity and bought a 125 year lease.
“The building was constructed in 1910 by the Edinburgh Life Assurance company as their London headquarters, which operated for many years before being taken over by Aviva, who sub-let part of the premises. Aviva subsequently sold the building to Brand Finance.
“The building is of five storeys over a basement, with a floorplate of around 800 – 900 sq m per floor and is constructed in the Italian renaissance revival style, featuring Carrera marble at the entrance, Venetian style pediments and a stone facade. It is also one of the first steel and concrete buildings in the City.
“New lower Artexed ceilings had been installed and many of the original features were concealed by various refurbishments which detracted from the beauty of the building. These were stripped out and asbestos was removed.
“There were various engineering technical issues – for example, when installing the risers, it was assumed that the rebars would be in the same position on each floor, but it was subsequently discovered that they were in different positions on each level. Similarly the installation of the building’s new lift was quite complex due to engineering issues.
“We kept discovering original features such as wooden floors, brass handles, wooden panelling and sash windows – all of which were refurbished. The original fireplaces had been removed, so new fireplaces were installed on two floors and designed in keeping with the building’s character. The original chimneys were retained and refurbished. Modern facilities installed include category 6 wiring throughout and super-fast broadband.”
The building incorporates boardrooms and flexible events and conference space, available to hire to Brand Exchange members for a variety of functions from meetings and private screenings to forums, workshops and press launches.
Platform 5 Architects’ described the scheme as “A light touch refurbishment of a former insurance company headquarters, originally built in 1911 in the neoclassical style.”
A key objective was to maximise the available space within the existing envelope. The ground floor contains a large open plan lounge area and meeting space, with large open plan offices that can be easily reconfigured for hot desk working, conferences or other events. The top floor incorporates a large meeting area, with further meeting spaces, kitchens and WCs located in the reconfigured basement.
The building exterior has remained largely untouched. A new mansard roof has created additional and upgraded space on the top floor, while a ground floor rear extension with a feature oval roof light has replaced a poor quality existing structure. A new projecting clock and brass signage on the street facade gives the building a dignified and stylish street presence.
The building opened on 7th November. “The Brand Exchange will bring together world leading experts and industry leaders in brand building to a wonderfully restored setting in the heart of The City of London. We have already had a lot of interest – particularly from financial services companies. Although the project went over budget, I think it will be worth it – we are very excited indeed,” said David Haigh.
Established in 1982, Keystone is a well-established and highly reputable specialist stone and tiling contractor, supplying various services to commercial and high-end residential projects. The company’s core business includes the supply, installation or renovation of bespoke natural stone flooring, wall cladding, kitchen worktops, vanity tops, staircases, fireplaces, and other architectural features. In addition, Keystone also specialise in stone and brick restoration and various methods of facade cleaning.
Speaking to Premier Hospitality, Stuart Dallen, said:
“We strive to ensure each task is completed safely, on time, and within budget, by diagnosing and resolving potential issues on site before they have a chance to develop into potentially much larger problems. We believe it is our attention to detail, proactivity, and quality of finish that gives our clients the confidence to work with us project after project.”
Keystone has recently been involved with the Brand Exchange project. Commenting on the scheme, Stuart said:
“Brand Exchange was a great project to be involved with as we were able to deploy a range of our services. We installed Victorian style geometric tiles to the communal floors, kitchenettes and WCs throughout the building. We cleaned and restored the Portland façade, and we undertook a full renovation to the now beautiful original marble floor to the entrance lobby and bar.”
Keystone has an impressive portfolio, with completed projects for clients including Cartier, Harrods, The Royal Society, The Knightsbridge, Selfridges and Claridges, to name but a few.
Volt Design Interiors Ltd
Volt Design Interiors Ltd specialise in the design and build of commercial and residential interiors offering bespoke applications for furniture and interior design. The firm have worked with various companies providing and sourcing solutions for bespoke cabinetry, reception desks and interior refurbishments.
Volt was established in 1999 and offers an array of services including the design and build of veneered panel work, reception counters, design engineering, antique restoration and UV bonding of glass. The firm work alongside architects and local authorities during projects and since their inception have worked with a plethora of high profile clients. Clients include The Pentland Group, Stephenson College, The Tussauds Group, Chelmsford College and Lee Stafford Hairdressers.
During projects the Volt team can work on a singular design fabrication or complete interior fit outs. Most recently the firm have worked on Brand Exchange interpreting the initial design.
We caught up with Duane Law from Volt Design Interiors Ltd to find out more. He commented:
“We recreated the new wall panelling to seamlessly flank the perimeters. Working with square metres was a first for us and our professionalism, coordination and support was appreciatively recognised on this project.
“The final result was proven as a high class fit out and establishment. Volt Design Interiors Ltd prides itself in its work ethic, autonomy and ability to integrate with the client whilst still offering competitiveness, service and a high quality finish.”