Guardian News & MediaEdit profile
Guardian News and Media is one of the UK’s most successful and innovative media companies, publishing the Guardian and Observer, two of the world’s oldest and most highly-regarded newspapers, and guardian.co.uk, one of the world’s leading news websites. The values of the Trust outlined by the editor of the Manchester Guardian CP Scott in 1921, inspired tp bennetts’ design scheme for the creation of an egalitarian, flexible workplace that encourages communication, innovation and creativity. Honesty, integrity and fairness manifest themselves through-out the scheme, from the basics of the strategic plan to the proposed materials and finishes. Located north of Kings Cross station, Kings Place is an architectural landmark and cultural destination. GNM has a dominant presence on the site by way of a highly visible, fully glazed ‘public’ ground entrance located at the most prominent corner of the building. Used as a public gallery the space sits at ease with the surrounding base build spaces and encourages links with the public who are invited into use the space, promoting GNM as a transparent and approachable organisation. In line with the company’s commitment to sustainability the building is environmentally friendly with a ‘green’ under floor displacement ventilation system allowing generous floor to ceiling heights and the use of a suspended lighting scheme for the open plan office areas. An energy efficient lighting scheme with a predominance of low energy fittings, and presence detection along with a responsible selection of finishes including FSC timbers and locally sourced Irish limestone demonstrates a socially responsible organisation. GNM’s strong links to the past are demonstrated in the main reception area where bound volumes of the Guardian and the Observer are displayed within a glass cabinet extension to the minimal reception counter. Balancing this historical reference, a media wall of bezel-less screens relays an endless collage of photographic images from breaking news stories letting the visitor know that the age of digital media has arrived. Deliberate, strategic views into the office environment from the reception/waiting area allow visitors to see behind the scenes and allow the public to further connect with the organisation and its staff. Moving through the reception area visitors arrive at the very heart of the organisation, a three-storey accommodation stair connects all GNM occupied floors. Nurturing relationships amongst its own staff was a key component of the design brief. A design solution that promoted communication across the organisation would not only encourage knowledge sharing but would also support the process of integrated working which is being introduced across the organisation as the company produces multimedia content 24/7. Giving an ambience of more gallery than office space, artefacts and artwork displayed along the main corridor routes alongside bold contemporary furniture and finishes reinforce that GNM is a forward looking company with a strong heritage. Situated overlooking the canal, and flooded with daylight is the vibrant staff restaurant. Bright colours and striking bespoke pendant lamp shades create a destination away from the office that staff are encouraged to use beyond the lunchtime service hours of the main server. A deli bar operating throughout the day helps to ensure that the restaurant seating area equipped with WIFI (like the rest of the building) and power outlets can be used for informal meetings and team gatherings throughout the day. The finishes palette on the office floors provides a light, fresh and timeless interior with materials such as stone and timber to evoke feelings of quality and substance befitting GNM. Interest and depth is added to the deliberately neutral palette through texture and the contrast of light and dark finishes (a subtle historical reference to the black and white newspaper print of the past). A considered and controlled use of colour features throughout the scheme took inspiration from the CMYK colour model (used in print media) giving longevity through a direct relevance to the business and avoiding fashion and trends. The accommodation staircase giving access to the office floors forms a central spine to the organisation. Space at the landing of the staircase on all floors overlooking the buildings central atrium is dedicated to communal support functions. Movement and activity in these areas promotes communication across floors. Centralising common support facilities enable tp bennett to locate open plan office space with clear uninterrupted access to daylight. The floor plate is configured to provide a continuous band of desking to the building perimeter allowing the greatest flexibility for departmental growth and reduction. Primary circulation routes have been kept direct and, along with bespoke way-finding signage, are easy to navigate. Enhancing the neutral base palette, feature colours have been adopted for each floor based on CMYK to give each floor an individual identity and assist with way-finding. The provision of breakout spaces and alternative work settings to support the open plan office areas was key to the successful operation of the business. GNM moved away from individual desk ownership to a more fluid and flexible desk sharing philosophy. Soft seating clusters and open plan meeting areas embedded within the workspace ensure staff always have somewhere to work and meet. Locating vending areas centrally on each typical office floor, adjacent to the stair landing and lift lobby, makes deliberate use of a difficult, narrow and social part of the floor overlooking the building’s atrium. By centralising all vending facilities, social interaction between staff from all sides of the business (and corners of the floor plate) is unavoidable. Importantly, the staircase landing on level 2 is home to the morning conference room. An inclusive event open to the entire business, morning conference is held every Guardian news day. The dedicated morning conference room uses a creative furniture based solution to create an informal non-hierarchical environment which can accommodate anything from a small informal meeting to a large group gathering. Early pioneers in an area of regeneration, advocates of new working practices and clients with an ambitious vision of the future, GNM is demonstrating the courage so valued by CP Scott.