Clarion Housing Group A ‘grown-up’ head office
Boasting iconic views across the River Thames towards the City of London, the new 24,000 sq ft head office of Clarion Housing Group at More London – designed and curated by 3equals1 Design & BEH – is now complete and provides a ‘grown-up’, sophisticated, and homely workspace for Clarion’s agile workforce.
Formed in 2016 following the merger of Affinity Sutton and Circle Housing Group, Clarion Housing Group is the UK’s largest housing association. Shortly after this merger, the company was presented with an opportunity to expand their established offices at 6 More London, thereby consolidating disparate offices into one landmark location. This expansion provided a convenient opportunity to refurbish the entire floor to reflect the new company identity and culture, and take advantage of the building’s generous glazing and natural light, which the previous internal architecture had compromised.
Jonathan Cawthra, Group Director of HR & Corporate Services from Clarion Housing Group, commented:
“Thank you very much for all the hard work you’ve put into it, not just in the designs but in gently cajoling us to keep on schedule and make decisions. You’ve always made it easy to make those decisions by being very clear about the alternatives, the costs and the consequences – we really couldn’t have asked for more. I know that there have been a lot of people who’ve played a part.”
Having already worked on numerous sites across the country for Clarion, Maz Mahmoudi of 3equals1 Design and Malcolm Harris from BEH Interiors shared a thorough understanding of the company’s ambitions and workplace strategy. To create a timeless, adaptable, modern space that would not easily date, Maz avoided fads and trends in favour of classic and homely interiors that could be easily modified in the future.
Clarion expects to complete its lease here in 2030, an unusually long period for corporate offices, which meant this futureproofing of furniture, fittings and finishes was particularly pertinent. Selected in partnership with Think Furniture, the diverse range of meeting room chairs, light fittings, flooring and workstations screen fabric colours allow for great flexibility, one area at a time. This prevents the need to make wholesale changes and prevents the company from being at the behest of a single supplier.
3equals1 Design’s owner, Maz Mahmoudi, explained:
“Clarion’s new head office is designed to really work for its people – the layout, fittings, and furniture all respond to their staff’s needs. Our unique inclusive methodology allowed us to create a working environment that people will love operating in. Without communicating to everybody involved – in 3equals1’s collaborative, fun style – we wouldn’t be able to produce commercial interior schemes that work so well.”
Malcom Harris, MD of BEH Interiors, remarked:
“This 24,000-sq. ft project was delivered within an 18-week fast-tracked programme. All works were completed in a multi- occupied building with extreme logistical challenges. Everyone’s hard work culminated in a project of which we are all extremely proud.”
Another advantage of diversifying the types of products used was to create neighbourhoods with distinct characters across the floor. With a maximum capacity of 258 people, the floor features three main open-plan, agile working zones with no assigned desks. Large banks of RFID-enabled lockers line the core walls. To prevent these large areas from feeling like a ‘call-centre’ environment, they have been interspersed with soft seating and collaborative work settings. Delineated by contrasting carpet colours and drop pendant feature lighting, they give workers variety and choice beyond their desks or meeting rooms. Breakout areas have deliberately been specified without power facilities to ensure staff don’t use them as workpoints, minimising poor ergonomics arising from inappropriate, medium-to-long term use of breakout seating.
Selected for their simple engineering, robustness and value for money, KI’s Connect3 workstations were specified with black understructures and a very light grey worktop (Kronospan Stone Grey). Amongst the most prominent items in the space, these grey worktops appear almost white at first glance, but reduce the cold, stark and sterile appearance of more commonly selected bright whites. The workstations also feature inset D Series Screens, upholstered three colours from the Camira Blazer Lite range (Balance, Hope and Retreat). Rather than being grouped together in each zone, these three colours have been scattered throughout, enhancing the vibrant aesthetic. These screens can be easily replaced with different fabric options in the future at minimal disruption, downtime and redundant cost. The open plan landscape also features KI’s Connect3 end-of-desk, screen-height storage cupboards.
Think Furniture’s MD, Tony King, said:
“Once we were awarded the contract the real work to ensure delivery of a large but interesting furniture scheme (that fitted budget and timeframes) began in earnest. Fortunately, because of our expansive portfolio Think Furniture were able to provide the design team with the right portfolio of furniture for the project; consulting with them on any possible improvements or options along the way.”
Rather than being clustered in one area, amenities and 16 meeting rooms have been distributed throughout the expansive floorspace. Workers and visitors alike will be able to easily access breakout, meeting and dining areas and will no doubt find their personal favourites. Each have been fitted with a variety of seating and table options including KI’s Meet4 column-based tables with integrated power. Each of the rooms feature different floor, wall and lighting finishes. Executive suites mirror the domestic style seen elsewhere across the office landscape, and transform to flexible meeting spaces when required. Resource and storage areas have been furnished with simple shelving units as well as KI’s 800 Series Storage for confidential waste and recycling units.
The vast reception area not only makes a striking first impression, it also acts as an informal meeting space and breakout area for staff and visitors. Featuring soft lighting and wood accents, it creates a warm and inviting atmosphere. Throughout the scheme, the overall feeling is one of being professional and practical, but not rigid and cold. Clarion has successfully created a home away from home for its staff, an apt brand statement very much befitting a leading housebuilder.