A few weeks ago my colleague Martin Fahey spoke about our new London office located in Sustainable Bankside. This new workspace is more than just your average office though, the community is built up of 75% sustainable start-ups and 25% corporates creating an eco-corporate culture of hipster heaven.
Of the many interesting elements of the working space – which includes up cycled office furniture, filament bulbs, succulents and sofas, what stood out to me the most were the sheds!
Wooden garden sheds are located outside the building in a communal open-air space which is lined with AstroTurf, ping pong tables and an amazing wooden home that featured on Grand Designs. The sheds however aren’t there to serve their traditional purpose, they act as additional meeting rooms adorned with comfy chairs and a table – the perfect location for a meeting of about 6 people.
Quirky spaces have become popular over the past few years as more and more people look to up cycling traditional objects like double decker buses and water towers into eco and sustainable living spaces. AirBNB, market leader in holiday rentals now even has an option to choose quirky accommodation and more and more I hear about friends who have spent the weekend glamping in a luxury yurt or tree house in Devon.
When it comes to quirky office and meeting spaces, this trend seems to be making waves here too. So thought I’d discuss a few of my favourite sustainable options.
The sheds at Sustainable Bankside, London Bridge
Sustainable Bankside has taken a disused warehouse and turned it into a temporary sustainable workspace for start-ups, using up cycled and recycled materials and as I’ve just mentioned, the use of sheds as meeting rooms is genius. With the outside space available this low cost way of providing additional private meeting areas is ideal for summer use. The sheds themselves are bog standard and I’m my opinion is a great way to recycle and up cycle a discarded outhouse.
Of course a little bit of work is required to make them work appropriate, at the least a good clean to ensure the critters are at bay and if you have a larger investment to make, there’s a huge selection of shed interior design ideas on the internet.
In winter however, the use of this type of shed for this type purpose might not be ideal as garden sheds are exposed to the elements and often free of electrical connections. But for temporary office space with a large amount of outdoor space – as is the case with Sustainable Bankside, the use of a nomadic style of meeting area is ideal.
The Bedouin Tent at Bishopsgate, Liverpool Street
I recently came across the Bedouin Tent which is being used for a variety of reasons at the St Ethelburga's Centre for Reconciliation and Peace in Bishopsgate, London. A Bedouin Tent is a North African and Middle Eastern style of tent linked to the nomadic Bedouin people. The tent’s design features allow them to be versatile in their location – even making them ideal for urban environments. They are traditionally made from goats and camels hair making them weatherproof. This design also allows for the tent to maintain a comfortable temperature as in summer it remains cool and in winter it remains warm – without needing additional heating or cooling systems.
The Bedouin tent in Bishopsgate, which was designed by Professor Keith Critchlow is made up of 16 sides allowing 25 people to be seated around the edge. Currently this space is being used for exhibitions, meeting spaces, music events, parties and weddings.
As a sustainable meeting space, I think a Bedouin Tent is not only quirky but its ability to remain comfortable throughout the seasons, be flexibly located and seat a decent amount of people makes it a practical option for offices with available green space.
The shipping containers at Langdon Park
The use of shipping containers in urban architecture has become quite the phenomenon over the past 10 years. Box Park in Shoreditch and markets like the new Watford Market use recycled shipping containers for retail space and restaurant space. In the example of the Watford Market, 42 shipping containers were up cycled and used to create a 2 level structure over 1,620 square metres. To comply with building standards the containers were adjusted to fit air flow vents, extraction fans, water, electricity and air ducting systems.
The Redbox shipping containers in Langdon Park which has designed for the office market, have also been sustainably sourced and provide bookable meeting spaces for up to 20 people.
Recycling shipping containers as office and housing solutions is a concept I think we will see more of in the future. Containers are durable, weather proof, strong and transportable and there is a high supply of shipping containers available. Containers are also built to be stacked and their modular design fulfils another trend for the built environment – modular building.
Whilst these unusual venues may not suit every business, I think there are lessons to be learnt here and would encourage more of this thinking outside the box of ‘normal’ construction. Whether your office building is looking for a way to increase its footprint of space, or if your company is leasing space on a temporary basis and have usable outdoor areas for nomadic style structures, I think the opportunities for quirky constructions are vast.