Caruso St John Architects

2006–2008
Location: London, GB
Client: Arts Council England
Project Status: Built

The National Offices for the Arts Council in Great Peter Street provide workspace for 250 staff, as well as meeting and reception spaces in a seven storey building that was reconstructed from a Victorian building in the 1980’s. The refurbishment of the interiors, which were previously labyrinthine partitioned offices with low suspended ceilings, took place in a phased construction process without closing the building.

The design reduces the interior of the building into a kind of industrial shell behind its more polite Arts and Crafts exterior. The shell makes the interior as open, as high and as interconnected as it can be, within which staff work in groups at large tables. Special constructions for quiet working, tea kitchens, and shared storage give a structure to the open plan. The cleared-out space has an interesting organic shape with a lot of window perimeter and spectacular views out to Parliament and Westminster Abbey.

The use of colour to form a three-dimensional construct within the building was devised by the artist Lothar Götz. The general shell is painted out in a range of greys, a specific tone for each of the seven floors of the building. Seven strong colours are used in 2.4m high locks, to reinforce a hierarchy within the floors, giving an intensity to the interiors of meeting rooms and core positions.