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The Nuffield Foundation is an independent charitable trust with a mission to advance educational opportunity and social well-being in the UK. It funds research that informs social policy in Education, Welfare and Justice. It is also home to the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory and the Ada Lovelace Institute.
Across all its activities, the Nuffield Foundation aims to improve people’s lives within a just and inclusive society. The team is comprised of specialists in research and policy, operations communications, finance and investment and more.
Accompanying the Foundation on a relocation journey that culminated in the creation of a new workplace, Peldon Rose revolutionised the working practices of the Nuffield Foundation. The result is a space that will allow the organisation to continue work to change people’s lives for the better.
The organisation was previously based in a period property in Tottenham Court Road’s Bedford Square. The layout of the building, with its narrow corridors, and basement offices, was not conducive to a modern, healthy way of work. Peldon Rose worked with the client from the outset, accompanying the team on various site visits, conducting building studies and test fits to help find the perfect new premises.
Understanding the need to stay in a well-connected area, opting to relocate to Clerkenwell’s St. John street set the scene for the next stage of the process.
Moving to a new flexible, open and collaborative office space has enabled us to align our working environment with our strategic aims and values.
Settling on a building with an abundance of character that featured industrial exposed concrete ceilings and columns throughout lent itself to the concept design that followed. The office benefited from sound structural features that Peldon Rose capitalised on. A warm industrial approach was taken to the design, retaining many of the existing elements that came with the space and complimenting it with oak flooring and other natural features.
A key aspect of the brief was a requirement for flexibility. The client regularly hosts large-scale events within the space so needed an office with the ability to act both as a workplace and a fully functioning venue for seminars, functions and research talks.
Flexibility was achieved in a number of ways. Spread across two floors, Nuffield Foundation’s daily operations take place on the second floor of St John Street while the third floor welcomes visitors and guests alike. On the third floor, the floorplate was opened up so guests are greeted by an open reception, tea point and breakout space on arrival that instantly appears like an active workplace. This was a key transformation for a previously landlocked reception of the Nuffield Foundation’s former premises.
Secondly, careful space planning was key. The installation of folding internal walls offers the option to easily create both smaller and larger seminar spaces. This was accompanied with various entry and exist points to carefully accommodate speakers or guests requiring discretion, which also assists with the flow of movement through the space.
Furniture pieces reflected this approach to flexibility. Curating a suite of furniture comprising of items including height adjustable café tables for both dining and canapé receptions meant that the atmosphere can be readily transformed, while flip top tables and stacking chairs offer maximum diversity. To accommodate events and seminar requirements, the space was installed with a catering kitchen capable of a full re-heat of food, a unique challenge for the team at Peldon Rose.
The second floor of the space provided direct access for the staff to enter through. Designed to enable the daily operational workings of the business; collaborative spaces, sofa settings and high tables make for different types of working environments.
Work pods and booths further differentiate the working styles that are catered for, with workstations positioned in close proximity to natural light creating pockets of neighbourhoods for teams to convene. While the new workplace was the same size as the old, a flexible and collaborative way of working increased the space value and workability of the office.
Connecting both floors of Nuffield Foundation’s workplace was integral to the design. Introducing a new, internal central stairway offers fluid access between levels. Acoustic rafts and hanging acoustic panels that mimicked the concrete beams in the ceilings act as an elegant means to control the noise within such a large, open space.
Project designer Georgia Nogas relished the challenge: “The technical requirements of the space presented a unique opportunity for the team to test our capabilities. The need to create an office that will act as a hybrid events space required a flexible approach and it was great to work with such a lovely client.”
As the Foundation has expanded and established a number of ‘Centres’ within our organisation, the importance of collaboration and shared knowledge and ideas has become even more important to us. Our previous head office was something of a rabbit warren of small inflexible spaces, and it was possible for different teams to go for days or weeks at a time without seeing colleagues due to the building layout.
The timing of our move, as it happens, could not have been better. Committing to an office move just as Covid hit the world felt like a high risk strategy at the time, but as people got more used to working remotely during the pandemic the need for flexible, collaborative workspace became even more apparent.
We treated the move project as a change project and canvassed opinion at an early stage. It is fair to say that there was some trepidation from members of the staff at the outset concerned about losing perceived privacy and adjusting to a very different workspace offering, but taking soundings several months in, the space is very popular with our staff. Offering different types of working space in different areas has been a big help, but the design, colour choices, light and feel of the space has been a big hit.”