eflecting a global brand while injecting local personality requires consideration of all elements of the interior design; from the colour palette and materiality through to work flows, furnishings and furniture.
“It’s all about embedding workplace cultures into the physical space,” explains Velimira Drummer, Interiors Leader at Stantec. “For Iron Mountain’s new London headquarters, this meant understanding how we could fit a very high density occupier layout into the space while creating a dedicated social area and how we could inject light and colour into the office while ensuring the branding was clear and consistent.”
Evolving the design brief
Iron Mountain is a global leader in records and information management with its headquarters in Boston. The company had secured a new London headquarters on the ground floor of a Foster+ Partners-designed building close to Tower Bridge and the starting point was to understand the Boston interior and materials to develop a design that was consistent with the global HQ but incorporated local materials and design sensibility.
“There were a number of challenges that we worked through to achieve the result we did,” explains Velimira.
“Firstly the space itself is quite dark and we needed to find ways to make it lighter and to create a sense of openness.
“Secondly, we needed to follow a strict programme that involved a total of 80 work stations in a mix of allocated and hot desk spaces, along with cellular offices, huddle spaces and a boardroom. This left little scope for informal working and social areas – but an informal area that allows people to take a step back from the work environment without leaving the office is fundamental to a sense of wellbeing and perceptions of a human-centred workplace. Consequently, we had to find a way of achieving light, space and connection with the outdoors without compromising the corporate style.”
Stantec’s approach was to consider the elements that could be carried across from the Boston office and ways in which the Iron Mountain brand could be articulated, both implicitly and explicitly in the interior. Meanwhile, the design focused on provision of an informal ‘heart’ space and the use of biophilic elements to soften the corporate interior and help end users feel less enclosed.
The workstations allocated for hot desking or permanent seats follow a traditional layout but have been designed as more open units, contrasting with the enclosed work areas in the Boston office. However, they follow the corporate palette, with blue seating and acoustic screening in line with the Iron Mountain brand.
It is in the provision of a ‘heart’ space that the Stantec team has created a more impactful sense of openness in centre of the open plan office. This area clearly delineates a less formal space with an oak timber ‘cube’ to create a feature wall and ceiling area. Here bistro-style seating and lighting clearly communicate that this is a space for break out meetings, social interaction or an opportunity to step away from the normal work environment.
Velimira continues: “It’s important to remember that people have different work preferences, so sitting behind a desk in an office might be perfect for one person while others thrive better if they can step out of their work area, perhaps to an environment where they can think or interact differently. Creating variety in the workplace supports wellbeing and increased choice, without obliging people to leave the office for an alternative environment.”
The biophilic elements in the design extend beyond the plants that have been brought into the space to the colour palette and materials used both in the heart space and the wider office. The timber was specifically chosen to offer a tactile aesthetic and that sense of the outdoors has been carried through to the ‘moss wall’ at the centre of the heart space, which is a back lit image of moss, cleverly illuminated to create 3D depth and height.
The timber of the heart space walls and ceiling has been carried through to some of the high level tables/desks installed here, while the seating picks up on the green of the moss wall, in contrast to the corporate blue used throughout the rest of the office. A piece of artwork in the heart space incorporating both green and blue hues ties together the natural and corporate colour themes.
The carpet has also been chosen to create a sense of the natural world being brought indoors. The corporate palette has been evolved from beige to a more contemporary grey and the design has a pebble motif that gives an optical illusion of texture and this is used throughout both the formal and informal office areas. The glazed partitions were another feature that was brought across to connect the space with the Boston HQ.
The pattern used to create privacy in the offices and conference rooms is exactly the same as that used in Boston, leaving the rooms transparent but ensuring privacy inside and creating an impression of rainfall.
While Stantec was able to develop a design for Iron Mountain’s corporate HQ that moved the space towards a more UK-oriented office aesthetic, the need to embed the brand in the interior was a clear priority.
Velimira continues: “We were able to make the space more light and create a sense of openness with a neutral colour palette as the back drop for the client’s vivid corporate blue, which is used as accents in furnishings, artwork and decoration.
“New LED lighting has also made the space much brighter and reflective surfaces, such as the polished chrome arms of the blue chairs in the boardroom, capitalise on this.”
In the main office area, the corporate blue accents are supported by photo walls using marketing images that have also been used on the walls of Iron Mountain’s Boston office and in the company’s brochure.
Meanwhile in the reception, the main reception desk is almost an exact copy of its Boston counterpart but the maple timber of the Boston office interior has been changed to oak, in line with trends in the London corporate interiors market. Brand messages have been applied directly onto the white walls in blue, while the artwork behind the reception desk is a replica of artwork used in the Boston reception area with the addition of a new piece that connects with the indoor planting in this area using green tones and introducing the biophilic theme.
Velimira adds: “The reception is the first point of contact with a global company in any location so we used the branded reception desk to create a sense of familiarity. However, we wanted to move away from the traditional reception area furniture, creating a space that feels much lighter and contemporary, and we’ve achieved this with a crisp, bright interior and lightweight furniture.”