The brief was to provide an open-plan flexible environment organised in accordance with the Council’s specific customer centre model stipulating a variety of service desk types, waiting areas, meeting rooms and staff accommodation. Crucially, face to face contact between customers and staff was required in contrast with the old service centre that separates the two with glass screens.
A glass entrance lobby was proposed facing the active Brixton Hill pavement taking advantage of the first floor overhang of the existing building. The lobby was a strategic move in creating more floor area and, by also removing the suspended ceiling in the central section of the proposed centre, a greater sense of space was created. New customer entrances were positioned at either end of the lobby and the existing staff entrance and security desk were also reorganised.
A bespoke furniture system has been designed that to meet the variety of service desk requirements. Materials and finishes were selected from a modest palette reinforced with bold accent colour, controlled graphics and video screens. Desks are faced with opal cast acrylic panels that have an inherent quality to both absorb natural light and filter artificial light and by careful positioning of the furniture these qualities are maximised.
A £1.5m construction budget for the works was given at the outset and the Centre opened in November 2007.The result is a robust and contemporary designed facility that has changed public perception and attitude towards Council Services in Lambeth.