British Council HQ London

Client. British Council
Location. Stratford, London
Value & Size. £14 million / 50,000 sqft
Services. Architecture / Interiors
Status. Completed

British Council HQ London

Client. British Council
Location. Stratford, London
Value & Size. £14 million / 50,000 sqft
Services. Architecture / Interiors
Status. Completed

This workplace fit-out for The British Council, while exemplary, represents the culmination of a process that involved immense, virtually unprecedented, cultural shift. This move for The British Council from its historic Spring Gardens SW1 Postcode, at the foot of the Mall, to a new ‘developer led’ speculative office building in the emerging International Quarter Stratford was for most people surprising, and for many more, extremely controversial.

Working in tandem with Henigan Consulting we set a process of detailed engagement and iterative design and decision making, to deliver a solution to enable this globally ‘venerable’ institution to approach, adjust and adapt to new ways of working, in a new building, in a new part of the city – a genuine cultural shift away from their SW1 home.

From the outset it was imperative that the Workplace fit out for the new HQ delivered the clients requirement to address the shift towards new ways of working. The lower three floors were specifically chosen by the Client to provide new dedicated front door to the British Council but also to allow staircase access to their demise. The new stair is at the heart of the building and encourages staff and visitors to use the stairs to help improve health and well being.

By addressing the security at the ground floor, the design has broken down the typical barriers associated with a normal office reception and creates a welcoming open space, with areas for a range of exhibitions, conferencing, and permanent installations. The full height moving screens can be adjusted to suit a range of different exhibition styles, presentation formats and large events.

The ground floor exhibition is the forefront of the design, making the global theme front and centre, it is used to show rich international diversity and highlight political context of cultural work on display.

The Ground Floor space engages and interact with the public realm and provides an exciting arrival experience into the British Council, improving accessibility and opening up their work to a much wider audience.

The Artists in Residencies connected the British Council’s international artist networks with the creative communities of East London. The project was curated by Create London, who work with local communities in cities to commission art and architecture that is ambitious, purposeful and useful. The art focused on exchanging skills and innovation between international artists and creative communities in the UK reflecting British Councils mission to broker new relationships and create new opportunities for collaboration.

The fit-out strived to deliver high-quality design geographically consistent with global guidelines. The design showcased the ideal embodiment of the brand, designed to maximise impact, and display British Council objectives. It was imperative that the design was based around activities that the staff would undertake during their given working day to address the needs of individuals to work in a flexible manner.

A major part of the British Council’s corporate mission is the teaching of the English language and the fostering of cultural exchanges abroad. This project focuses on people. We set out to create an environment where people connect on a human level but on a global scale.

Through our bespoke signage and graphics package, meeting rooms are named after capital cities where British Council branches are, reminding local staff of the global nature of the business, while vibrant wall-mounted imagery of those locations are strategically located to be visible as backdrops whilst videoconferencing with remote attendees.

The positive photography helps focus on real people in authentic situations prompting an emotional response to the international work that the British Council carries out. The supporting imagery in the rooms and across the floor demonstrate the breadth and depth of work to add further interest and detail to stories, inspiring staff to reach out and helping people to connect with the British Council.

Project Team
Environmental/M&E Engineers. Hoare Lea
Quantity Surveyor. Aecom
Employers Agent. Aecom
Project Manager: Turner & Townsend
Principal Designer. Turner & Townsend
Principal Contractor. BW Workplace Experts
Professional Photography. Tom Bird
Concept Sketch
Concept CGI - Reception
Concept CGI - Terrace

“It was a pleasure to work with 5Plus, in developing and creating our vision for an inclusive and inspiring new location for staff and visitors, representing the best of our dynamic innovative organisation.”

Lynda Crawford RIBA
Programme Director, Collection Relocation,
Cultural Engagement, British Council
Ground Floor Plan
First Floor Plan

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