Biophilic, sustainable design meets charity’s ethos at London head office

Environmental campaigning charity, Friends of the Earth, has brought its brand identity to life through the design of its new London-based office space. The result is a positive workplace that stays true to the organisation’s core environmental beliefs, and reminds the Friends of the Earth team of its purpose, while sowing the seeds for the organisation to continue to thrive.

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riends of the Earth campaign for solutions to environmental problems including climate change, land, food and water as well as environmental justice. The charity’s goal is to enable the next generation to enjoy a better environment, a safer climate and healthier, clean water, food and air.

When interior specialist, Peldon Rose, was appointed as Friends of the Earth’s workplace consultant, it took the charity’s brief as an opportunity to create a showcase for responsible, sustainable sourcing within workplace design.

Located in the 10,018ft² period warehouse The Printworks in south London, sustainability was at the heart of Friends of the Earth’s design requirements for its new office and Peldon Rose achieved the organisation’s ambitions by selecting recycled, reclaimed and recyclable materials for the design of the office. Sustainable elements include reclaimed wooden flooring taken from another area of the old warehouse, Interface’s carpet tiles – comprising recycled content – as well as a reception desk fabricated from reused cardboard. Peldon Rose’s sustainability efforts reach to motion detector innovations and manual switch lighting as well as instant hot water taps and an air cooling system which sucks in the cool air at night negating the need for air conditioning. Peldon Rose’s sustainability achievements have been recognised by RICS’ Ska Rating for Friends of the Earth’s new office.

Around the world

Peldon Rose’s design concept, ‘what if the world was flat?’, permitted Friends of the Earth’s office to be divided from left to right along the earth’s latitudinal zones, creating geographical regions from across the world. Interface’s Urban Retreat carpet has enabled Peldon Rose to create distinct sectors within from the company’s iceberg-themed meeting rooms in the office; from the polar region and rain forest open spaces to the preserved moss walls and tree house at the centre for meetings in the wetlands.

The polar region’s cool, calming effect enables staff at Friends of the Earth to retreat to a space dedicated to quiet working. As the temperature of the latitude rises within the office’s spaces, the colours mirror the warmth and in turn encourage a lively energy and pace to work in a collaborative environment. The wetland hub area is intended as a hands-on, flexible zone where staff gather for contemplative work.

Friends of the Earth’s round the world interior design scheme has showcased the organisation’s global reach and brought restorative shades and textures of nature into the workplace. Interface’s sustainable and nature-inspired collections were used to bring the vision to life, alongside a colour scheme that reflects Friends of the Earth’s global reach; from the rainforest to the Arctic.

Commenting on the design, Steve Taylor, Project Director at Peldon Rose, said: “Physical spaces affect our performance, behaviours and moods, and there’s a direct correlation between the physical spaces we work in and our mental wellbeing. Friends of the Earth wanted a design for its office space that really empowers employees, brings them together and allows the charity to be more impactful. This was a great opportunity to create a showcase for responsible, sustainable resourcing in interior design.”

Interface’s biophilia-inspired Urban Retreat collection was used throughout the communal office space to mimic diverse elements of nature. The collection offers 11 dynamic modular flooring products, ranging from refined textures to broad, organic forms to create an illusion of the natural world. The carpet tiles were utilised in the open-plan office space and represent different aspects of the environment ranging from textured grass to sandy deserts.

“The Urban Retreat collection allowed us to create quick and easy-to-understand visual prompts that feel like you’re venturing across different regions of the earth,” added Steve.

Several colours from the Net Effect One and Two collections were also used in each composition in the meeting rooms to capture the precise moment when sea foams onto the shore. Contrasting rhythms, textures, colours and patterns created the iceberg-themed space to provide each room with a unique life of its own through organic imagery and a complex illusion of light moving through water.

A positive workplace

Friends of the Earth’s new office accommodates space for the organisation’s 170 staff members, however, the office is home to only 78 traditional work stations. The office’s quiet rooms, informal meeting spaces, acoustic meeting pods, touchdown benches and breakout spaces are strategically placed throughout the office to meet the needs of Friends of the Earth’s workforce.

“Our old office space comprised several floors, which made it hard for staff and volunteers to work together effectively,” explains Eilish Kavanagh, Director of People, Culture & Inclusion. “We wanted to move to an office that would give us a much more flexible and positive space with a colourful, fun and inspiring design. We were delighted with our carpet choice from Interface – it truly reflects the different eco systems and adds a real wow factor. Interface’s sustainability credentials – including their focus on using recycled and bio-based materials within their products – made them a natural fit for the project.

“The end result is an office space that’s amazing to work in, and where you feel you’re contributing to change.”

Emi Murphy, Campaigner at Friends of the Earth, commented: “I am very passionate about environmental issues and it’s nice to see so many plants and other living elements, such as our living wall, within the office. I am someone who likes a clean, open space and I work better in environments with less clutter.”

“It’s an amazing place to work and you really do feel like you’re contributing to change,” concluded Eilish.

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