We have relocated our London office to The Bailey (16 Old Bailey) to house our people in a modern, open-plan working environment. Our new office promotes some of the highest standards in energy efficiency alongside flexible working and biophilic design features.
Kavita Ramchandra, our Senior Sustainability Manager, shares her sustainability reflections on transitioning to a new working environment through the lens of sustainable office design and being a tenant in a new part of London.
Our relocation to The Bailey supports the reduced demand for office space which has partially been a consequence of the COVID pandemic. We agree that the mass adoption and use of digital technology has facilitated opportunities in remote working. Having said that, the flexibility enabled through technology and the willingness from our people to adapt has aided our transition into hybrid working environments.
The process began with the signing of a Green Lease between Willmott Dixon Interiors and the landlord. The agreement will help us to monitor and manage our energy (and other) environmental impacts, and there is an aspiration to achieve net zero operational carbon in the future. During the design scoping stage we set targets to: reduce waste, reuse items such as IT equipment and furniture from our previous office, repurpose carpet tiles, reconfigure light fittings, and much more!
Challenges to embracing sustainability
Being a sustainability-minded business, the opportunity to apply our in-house services while delivering an office space for our own use has been unique. The sustainability journey from pre-commencement, design, and delivery of our own office has been an eye-opener in terms of appreciating the vast considerations required to support the decision-making process as a tenant choosing to be sustainable. Be it the decision-making to (1) choose a local product sourced within 50 miles or 500 miles or (2) investigate social enterprises to re-home IT equipment and office furniture or (3) collaborate with manufacturers to reconfigure office shelves and light fittings etc.; this new office has provided us insights into the practical challenges faced by a tenant embracing sustainability.
Our co-creative solutions and biophilic design
The new office at the Old Bailey is one floor of open plan office space with a few meeting rooms. By design there are collaboration areas that will nurture our ‘One Team’ way of working and enrich the experience of participating in the collective co-creation across the business. This new office benefits from generous sized windows bringing in plenty of daylight and fresh air. The biophilic influences in the break-out area include a selection of real plants that will help improve the indoor air quality and lend itself in supporting the mental health and well-being of our people. The provision of lockers, showers and cycle storage facility in a communal basement encourages cycling into work. The migration to remote working has opened us to the possibility of reducing our printing needs. The workstation arrangements foster hot desking and storage of files on the cloud has become second nature to all. While we acknowledge that the construction industry is typically slow to adapt to change, our people continue to demonstrate resilience in this transition and are our ambassadors building trust within the business.
The living wall
Our own living wall is situated within the office that we incorporated into the biophilic design of our new space. Working with Biotecture, we have created the wall opposite our amphitheatre, to enable our people to benefit from improved air, acoustics and wellbeing when entering our office. Research is clear that biophilic design improves the look and feel of commercial space, and increases creativity and productivity by bringing the outdoors, in.
Biotecture’s living wall at the Bailey was constructed using PlantBox, a cleverly simple modular, stackable living wall system. The individual PlantBox troughs are stacked together and contained within an elegant aluminium surround. In any construction project sustainability is an important consideration PlantBox is manufactured in the UK using 100% recycled materials.
For internal living walls, easy watering is an important consideration. This wall includes a water reservoir at the base and a re-circulating pump to irrigate the living wall. A robust mix of indoor plants were selected by Biotecture including ferns, Peace lilies, and tropical plants.
“We like working with clients who are as committed as we are to making the world a greener place. Willmott Dixon Interiors are one of the top fit-out specialists in the country and it is great to see them embracing biophilic design in their new office space at the Bailey. Plants have been proven to reduce stress and anxiety in the workplace. Internal living walls are a brilliant way to bring more plants into offices without taking up valuable floor space. Not only do they create stunning backdrops to a space they also improve wellbeing and staff retention. We are looking forward to working with Willmott Dixon Interiors on many more projects in the future!” – Richard Sabin, Managing Director, Biotecture.