World Architecture Day 2014
 
 
 
 
Matt Yeoman gives the inside track on what developers in the TMT industry are looking for in London
Interview by Sian Disson

Buckley Gray Yeoman is a London-based architecture practice situated in the eclectic borough of Shoreditch. Over the past few years, the firm’s portfolio has expanded rapidly and with it, the list of top names commissioning Buckley Gray Yeoman for repeat schemes, Fred Perry and Derwent among them.

This quirky design studio specialises in creative adaptive reuse projects and nowhere is their talent and ingenuity more apparent than in the freshly-completed Buckley Building for developers Derwent. Located on a prominent site on Clerkenwell Green, the warehouse-style property has been a huge hit with Unilever and Hill+Knowlton who have already snapped up a large proportion of the floor space on offer.

In restructuring the former factory building to allow for more generous floorplates and undoing the modifications that were hiding the original industrial features, Buckley Gray Yeoman opened themselves up to the burgeoning Technology, Media & Telecommunications (TMT) market. In the following interview, Matt Yeoman, Director at Buckley Gray Yeoman, tells WAN what developers in the TMT market are looking for in London properties.

How does the Buckley Building 'set a new benchmark for office design in the TMT sector'?

In terms of scale and quality, the Buckley Building refurbishment offers something very different to what’s currently available on the market.

 

The building has the largest floorplates in Clerkenwell and is of great interest to TMT companies and multinationals as a result (it is confirmed that Unilever are renting the first two floors and global PR consultancy Hills & Knowlton the top two). The attention to detail is also very high and we have to create spaces that combine refined surfaces with grittier elements that show the building’s industrial past.

How does designing for the TMT industries differ from other commercial sectors in terms of office design?

The design approach is completely different. Increasingly in the TMT sector, clients are looking for less formal working environments and moving away from standardised Grade A work spaces in a search for something more varied and unusual. There aren’t any set BCO rules for the TMT sector either; rather than focusing on prescriptive standards, TMT refurbishment projects revolve around creating more quirky and individual spaces.

TMT-style spaces aren’t of interest just to technology, media and telecoms companies. Firms from other sectors are now looking for an alternative to standard commercial office spaces. They are moving away from more conformist spaces and increasingly choosing stylish, cool and more creative interiors that are appealing to their staff and clients.

What design elements do TMT clients request?

It’s hard to pin down what makes a successful TMT office as the sector is unlike any other and there are no exact standards and required specifications. The main thing I’ve noticed is that clients are looking for something different from the standard corporate office space. Rather than being prescriptive, they are asking for spaces that are cool, clever and have plenty of character. In refurbished commercial buildings, clients are increasingly asking architects to preserve the soul of the building and avoid the institutional feel of many corporate work environments.

Which city is leading the way in terms of designing for the TMT sector?

London - in particular the Old Street and Clerkenwell areas - is really leading the way and the focal point of

 

activity at the moment.

TMT companies often have high energy demands. How is this fed into the architectural design of a TMT building?

TMT companies need an adequate power supply for their IT needs and a super-fast fibre-optic broadband connection. This is a consideration when specifying the building services.

Much has been made in the press of media companies encouraging employees to work remotely. How do you incorporate these flexible working practices into your designs?

A key characteristic of the TMT sector is making the most of all the spaces available, including using previously neglected parts of the building such as rooftops (that used to house mechanic equipment and servicing) and transforming them into terraces that are used as informal workplaces . TMT companies recognise that their employees are no longer chained to their desks, meaning there is less pressure on creating traditional desk spaces.

Often TMT companies will opt to put desks closer together than BCO guidelines would recommend as people now have the option to work in more informal spaces such as staff cafés or office rooftop terraces. The increasing number of people working from home is adding to this moving away from the traditional desk culture.

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