Private Office and Trading Floor


Suburban Global Trading in Wimbledon Village

MBA were commissioned in December 2008 to design ‘the perfect office environment’ for a senior partner of a major¬†European hedge fund in a Conservation Area in leafy Wimbledon Village. An existing office building was completely remodelled to provide a trading floor with high ceilings and clerestory windows, larch over cladding, brise soleils and climbing plants, and sophisticated climate control and environmental systems.

“This is a small trading floor were few people create huge wealth. The trading space is designed as a box within a box – with perfect connection to the sky and the seasons, shielded, protected with many layers of timber, brick, plaster and glass. The whole project is designed around the activity, which is actually very quiet, calm and focused” says Marcus Beale. “Everywhere we are exploring the symmetry between different things, balancing one thing against another.” An example is the staircase which is one side a restored brick wall and the other a crisp amalgam of steel and white plaster.

Environmental considerations were important: the building uses an air source heat pump and a photovoltaic array for renewable energy, sheep’s wool insulation and natural timber cladding to stabilize the brickwork’s thermal mass, and LED lighting is used throughout. “We were nervous of this, about the colour temperature and fullness, but with the excellent quality of natural light during the day it works well.”

Acoustic measures include high levels of attenuation, a heavy roof to limit aircraft noise, absorbent ceilings to reduce internal reverberation, and a purpose designed internal waterfall specially developed for this project which uses tubes drilled through a slate slab to produce ripples without splashes. A full scale mock up of the fountain was made and tested to ensure it produced the right sound. “There’s a chaos in water effects, despite the best efforts at regularity and evenness, this exploitable chaos – serendipity – is what makes the sound interesting.”

Purpose designed free-form dealer desks in veneered walnut allow five screens to be seen comfortably at once, and audio, lighting, data, environmental and security systems are integrated and automated.

The design treats the financial trading floor as an oak floored glass ‘box’ set within the outer face of brick and larch. It sets back from the skin of the building to form a generous double height entrance space. Extensive use of ‘Privalite’ screens, which can be switched opaque or clear, allow the layers of the building to be exploited in different ways to control views out and levels of privacy within.

It was an extraordinary commission, during a recession, to have a client ask for a ‘cool, funky office’ with quality given much higher priority than cost. The result is not bound by ‘constraints’, but by the skills of the design and construction team. So what do cool and funky mean in architectural terms? Cool is in the proportions of the spaces, the bright circle of the clerestory lights and mirrors at high level which ensure that the interior is never the same but changes during the course of the days and seasons, in the exposed steel frame and panels of off white walls and grey stained brickwork, and in the quiet, calm acoustic. Funky is in the use of dark, warm materials, splashes of colour, indirect lighting, technology and automation.

The office was occupied early December 2009 – the attached photos are by Marcus Peel – December 2009.


Project Architect
Marcus Beale
Job Architect
Daiva Bartke
Quantity Surveyor
Pierce Hill
Audio Visual Installation
SMC
Structural Engineers
Elliott Wood
Mechanical, Electrical and Acoustic Engineers
Zisman Bowyer and Partners
Contractor
DDC Ltd

Dates
2009
Location
Wimbledon, London, UK

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