London architecture firm, Make Architects has just opened its new London studio in a 1,300 sq m underground parking garage. The subterranean space showcases an innovative, imaginative and sustainable design, hallmarks of Make’s work.
On entering the offices, staff and visitors make their way down to the underground studios via a series of stepped platforms that used to be the original vehicle ramp. The main entrance is a versatile space for meetings and presentations, and can be used as a gallery to showcase creative talent. A lightweight, translucent canopy spans the ramp from street level down to the studio, creating a light, bright and welcoming enclosed space.
Bringing light into the basement space was a key challenge. In addition to the luminous entrance canopy, generous floor to ceiling heights of 3.7m allow for full length windows and sliding doors to the east and south walls, with the doors leading into the south-facing garden. There is a central light well comprising 8x5.5m glass blocks that draws in light from the courtyard above. Further windows to the sides and the rear also allow natural light to filter down, with light wells at the front for maximum daylight penetration.
In keeping with Make’s egalitarian ethos, the office is open-plan with four large meeting rooms and lots of room for break out spaces, including the garden, which provides an informal meeting space during the summer months. The arrangement of circular desks around the existing, exposed concrete pillars has created a unique design feature providing additional desk area and a more collaborative environment.
The look and feel of the space is utilitarian, retaining the industrial elements of the parking garage, such as exposed pipework, worn concrete columns and exposed wires and vents, while at the same creating an elegant, sophisticated and high-spec workspace for 171 employees.
Sustainability was integral to the design, as it retained the original exposed concrete. The installation of an underfloor heating and cooling system regulates the temperature of the studio, and all of the lighting is LED.
Ken Shuttleworth, founder of Make said: “We are thrilled to be up and running in our new studio. Our thanks got to Derwent for providing us with a fantastic blank canvas and allowing us carte blanche to create a truly Make home.”