BREEAM 2014 UK Refurbishment and Fit-Out Excellent
WELL New and Existing Interiors v1 Gold
One Carter Lane is the first building in the UK and Europe to achieve WELL Certification through the WELL Building Standard (WELL.) It is an expression of international multi-disciplinary engineering company’s Cundall’s belief that sustainable design can forge a workspace that promotes individual well-being as well as inspiring creativity and collaborative working.
The 15,400 ft2 One Carter Lane office (located opposite St Paul’s Cathedral) is a showcase for how a first class (CAT-A) office fit-out can apply a host of carefully thought out features to create a healthy, efficient and future-proof space that is kind to the environment whilst putting the well-being of the occupants at the heart of the design.
An outstanding workspace
Cundall’s new London office sits on the ground floor of One Carter Lane. It has been laid out to create a hierarchy of spaces, offering various degrees of privacy and formality, as well as the capacity to provide for different work tasks. This improves efficiency and recognises that not all tasks suit sitting at a desk or in a meeting room.
The versatile design approach is typified in the “Cundall Town Hall”, a café area with space for a third of the 180 staff in the office to meet, socialise and share meals together. This is the heart of the office, the main gathering point that creates a community feel. Specifically designed by Studio Ben Allen, the bench tables combine with bench seating to promote an inclusive relaxed atmosphere, whilst much-loved pinball machines, moved from the old office, create a lively and friendly-competitive element.
Dividing the Town Hall from the reception area, a planted trestle structure is inspired by the early trestle bridge designs, reflecting the structural engineering aspects of Cundall’s work. Growing and establishing itself over the coming years, the trellis planting not only demonstrates Cundall’s commitment to biophilia in the workplace, but also adds character and unifies the front of house spaces whilst creating a gateway into the main office space.
The reception is a bright guest area, welcoming visitors into the office. Innovative acoustic materials limit the amount of noise seeping across the space. Baux acoustically absorbent, hexagonal wood wool panels are arranged in a decorative abstract sunrise artwork behind the reception, assisting with speech intelligibility as well as creating a focal point. The seductive scent of fresh coffee from the Town Hall café greets visitors and helps create a homely and personal feeling.
The client meeting rooms have deliberately been located in a single central location around the reception area, so guests can move easily and quickly to where they need to be. The main boardroom and secondary client room both face the south entrance of St Paul’s Cathedral, giving beautiful, if potentially distracting, views of this architectural masterpiece.
The office space
Moving past the Town Hall, the layout of the office area makes the most efficient use of the space and the good natural light. All the staff work on the one floor to maintain Cundall’s ‘one team’ philosophy, developing the social and professional links that underpin Cundall’s shared values and understanding. Without using walls, the area is carefully divided to create a range of complementary spaces to suit the various ways that staff like to work. There are four main types of work space, ranging from the desks, allocated layout spaces on the bench desks, break out spaces in the main office area and in the café for informal meetings to the five enclosed meeting rooms.
Walls, flooring and ceilings are limited to gentle neutrals. Meeting room frontages that face the town square are sharply panelled with black stained oak. This neutral background is enlivened by “pops” of primary colours. These reds, blues and yellows are limited to under the desks, adding cheeriness to the setting without being overwhelming or intrusive. The hot reds are repeated in some of the seating and in the drop lampshades in the town hall dining area. Warm tones of oak run throughout the office, particularly complementing the soft warmth of the brass fittings in the kitchen and café.
Using a comfortable benchmark of 10ft2/person derived from BCO research, the c15,400ft2 design not only meets Cundall’s current requirements, but allows space for continued growth.
The design of the desks was identified as a key element of the fit-out. In a deliberate move away from “hot desking” – as requested through staff feedback - each staff member has their own desk. These are smaller than the desks at the previous office, but allow for more space between them, emphasising the feeling of spaciousness, as well as allowing for increased amounts of layout and break out space, necessary for the discussion and review of drawings. A bench-type design with limited partitioning allows members of the team to face each other, sitting around workbenches, promoting informal discussions and better sharing of project information.
Studio Ben Allen considered various products on the market and decided that better value could be offered by developing a bespoke modular desk system fabricated locally. Prototype desks were built and trialled in Cundall’s previous office and following feedback sessions these were adapted to precisely fit the company’s needs. The bespoke steel-legged, oak workbenches were designed by Studio Ben Allen and manufactured locally by Creative Base Tables.
Mixing practicality with sustainability, the desks are topped with marmoleum, a compound of linseed oil, rosins, cork flour, limestone and wood flour affixed to a nontoxic jute backing. These ingredients create a tough, environmentally-friendly surface that becomes harder and more durable over time. Slim-line twin monitor stands free up desk space for laying out large drawings, and help make the office feel airy and neatly appointed. Visitors’ desks follow the same style and are equally well-equipped.
Working in an open plan office area, acoustics became a key issue. Cat A perforated ceiling tiles with acoustic backing are supplemented with acoustic baffles integrated within the tall shelving units, strategically placed, to reduce the impact of noise ‘bouncing’ across the floorplate. Once the shelving units are installed, Cundall staff will trial several different materials on the shelves to see which has the best performance for absorbing noise. The shelving also offers opportunities for staff to show off their individual and team identities, including engineering tools, toys and old design icons, like an original MAC computer. Plants are dotted about in many places on the shelving, with staff adopting them to the point where they become ‘my’ plant.
The office area is further divided with breakout and informal meeting areas. Designed as rooms within rooms, they create a comfortable separation between teams, breaking up the open plan space and defining more intimate spaces. Their comfortable seating and innovative green walls make them very popular collaboration spaces for both formal meetings and informal networking. An old ejector seat from a fighter jet sits demurely in one of the breakout areas.
Cundall believes in investing in their people; recognising that succeeding in the “battle for talent” is fundamental to business success over the next decade. One Carter Lane is a key tactic in that battle, with the quality of office fit-out and location supporting the drive to attract and retain the best staff.
Using the end of their lease as a catalyst, Cundall set out to create an exceptional and sustainable workplace for their staff, within a tight budget. One Carter Lane is not only a world-class example of a sustainable work environment but is also a real-world tool to lead on and educate about sustainable office design.
Whilst staying within central London keeps the impact on staff to a minimum, the prominent location in the heart of the City allows Cundall to use One Carter Lane as a showroom to demonstrate the benefits of carefully crafted sustainable office design, allowing visitors to experience first-hand the benefits of some of the research achieved in the new acoustic and green labs.
Clients, architects and project managers are encouraged to meet at One Carter Lane, with visitors from other regions able to hot desk in the welcoming environment, facilitating collaboration with partner organisations.
Manufacturers, contractors and designers have used the space as a “show suite” and Cundall frequently hosts events to demonstrate the sustainable design features.
The project has started a debate amongst Cundall contacts about the value of a more vibrant, biophilia-inspired aesthetic, with the office being viewed extremely favourably by visitors and staff alike. While not every occupier might be willing to push the boundaries of traditional fit-out practice to this extent, One Carter Lane is helping other tenants to re-evaluate what is possible, desirable and available to the market.
One Carter Lane is an exceptional office and Cundall wants to use this to influence the debate about affordable, quality, sustainable, healthy buildings.
WELL Building Standard - Gold Certification
SKA for Offices - Gold Certification
Sustainable building materials
Low-emitting materials and finishes
High efficient lighting
Environmentally friendly furniture
Green or brown roofs
Waste reduction commitment
One Carter Lane was the first project in Europe to achieve the WELL Building Standard. It puts the health and wellbeing of the occupants at the heart of building design.
Cundall’s new London office at One Carter Lane is more than an office fit-out. It is an expression of our belief that great design should inspire a creative, healthy and
collaborative workspace. During the design process, several sustainability assessment tools were identified for their various unique approaches to identifying and acknowledging a project’s characteristics:
- One Planet Living - Principles adopted: towards zero carbon, zero wastage, energy efficient white goods, locally sourced products
- WELL Building Standard - Gold Certification achieved: focus on occupant health, wellness and indoor environment quality
- BREEAM Refurbishment and Fit-Out 2014 – Excellent rating at 74%: for efficient systems, low emissions, low embodied energy materials and good management
- SKA for Offices - Gold Certification of 81%: for materials reuse, responsible product procurement and fit-out best practice
- JUST program – Principles adopted: towards the creation of a more equitable business environment
- Living Building Challenge - Principles adopted: towards material transparency, bringing nature into the internal space, improved air quality, thermal and visual comfort
- Energy Performance Certificate – 61 C rating: to reduce CO2 emissions and encourage energy saving
Cundall designers started the sustainability quest by minimising the actual alterations included in the CAT A fit-out, (e.g. by retaining the ceiling tiles) before considering the detail of the design:
- Waste has been separated into recyclable and non-recyclable streams, with paper being streamed separately.
- Continuous monitoring and recording of zonal space temperature, humidity, lux levels, indoor air quality (TVOC and CO2 concentration).
- Minimising maintenance and management activities, e.g. with modern T5 fluorescent lighting reducing the need of regular lamp changes.
- Minimising costs-in-use by using efficient lighting with passive infra-red occupancy detection and daylight dimming controls.
- Where old light fittings were replaced, the units have been stored to act as replacements for when any of the old fittings fail.
- The fan coil units (FCUs) are the VAV (variable air volume) type to further save energy.
WELL BUILDING STANDARD
As well as embracing BREEAM and SKA, Cundall designed One Carter Lane to be the first project in Europe to achieve WELL Certification.
An initial review of the objective of WELL indicated that they aligned with many of Cundall’s existing values and outcomes, both in terms of workplace and organisational goals. Some of the requirements of WELL had already been implemented within Cundall as part of their commitment to staff welfare. Cundall decided that the best way to fully understand the implications of this new standard was to apply them to the One Carter Lane fit-out and assess the impact on the design.
WATER QUALITY. Clean water is a given in the UK and everyone assumes that what comes from the tap is fit for purpose. Cundall engineers tested the water coming from the tap and were surprised that the results indicated that it was exceeding the limits for nickel content recommended by the World Health Organisation. To counteract this and to deal with the demanding standards of turbidity, toxins, etc., Cundall purchased a large filter to provide clean water to the cafe.
AIR QUALITY. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) have an exceptionally negative impact on the human body. Cundall undertook a rigorous process of identifying potential sources and eliminating them. To this end bespoke furniture was made locally, and the designers specified low VOC paint, adhesives, chipboard, and low VOC Bolon floor covering. Cundall realised that specifying low VOC materials and products was just a first stage, which had to be taken through into day-to-day cleaning and maintenance practices. Low VOC cleaning products and air fresheners also had to be identified and used, in order to prevent VOCs being absorbed into, for example, the carpet, only to be emitted subsequently into the air.
NOURISHMENT. The need to provide cafe facilities for 30% of the occupants offered Cundall the opportunity to consider elements such as the provision of fresh fruit throughout the day, as well as more basic concepts such as limiting processed food and clear labelling to indicate artificial ingredients and potential allergies.
MIND. This element of WELL considers how an occupant’s mental and emotional wellbeing can be enriched. In addition to artworks and personal items, quiet places and social areas, Cundall has applied its research on biophilia - the instinctive bond between humans and nature. Integrating plants into Cundall offices is not new but the company used the new office fit-out as an opportunity to increase the number and format of plants throughout the workspace. As well as individual plants and a green wall which has been modified to draw air through the plants, Cundall has also installed beautiful living moss panels in one of the meeting rooms, using a vibrant green natural moss which is visually very appealing and has a very relaxing effect on the occupants.
LIGHT. The lighting at One Carter Lane is designed to provide proper levels of light for staff to see clearly as well as maximising comfort and alertness. All this whilst minimising disruption to the body’s circadian system. In addition to desks being positioned to make the most of the natural daylight and using light-reflecting Bolon carpeting, the lighting is on dimmer switches which start to reduce artificial lighting at 300 Lux and switches off the fittings at 600 Lux.
COMFORT. Cundall has considered every aspect of staff comfort, taking a holistic approach to address the different factors at work – ergonomics, acoustics, electromagnetic fields, hygiene, temperature control and air flow – applying a range of measures to enable staff to be comfortable, both physically and mentally.
FITNESS. Here, some WELL features were incorporated into the planning of the building, for example changing facilities, showers and cycle racks to facilitate activities like cycling to work. Others are more concerned with day-to-day office life and activities, like weekly yoga classes.
With sustainability as a core service, Cundall has been conducting its own research on biophilia, to prove the positive impact that plants can make in a workplace. This research has found practical expression in Cundall’s new London office. A striking planted trellis and green walls initiate conversations about how office spaces can be healthier as well as more sustainable.
In addition to the planted trestle trellis, Cundall has installed active green walls. These green walls have an innovative mechanical element - fans in the plenum behind the planting pull air from the office space through the plants. This filters and cleans the air to improve the air quality in the office. Whilst not a new idea, Cundall is taking the opportunity to test how it performs as a filter and to see how it can be used to improve air quality in an environmentally friendly way.
In addition to the trellis and the green walls, the open shelving offers the opportunity to have individual plants around the office.
MATERIALS AND QUALITY
Build quality and quality of materials were seen as being of major importance in creating an inspiring workplace. The design team collaborated closely with local fabricators, engaging early in the design process to ensure desks, kitchens and flooring, etc, were of the highest quality and made from sustainable materials.
Materials were also key in pursuing the WELL Building Standard™, by using only products that contain very low or zero volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and avoiding other materials that could give off unhealthy emissions.
Materials with excellent durability and outstanding sustainability credentials were carefully selected, with melamine finishes and veneers studiously avoided and replaced with, for example, solid oak cupboard doors and desk edging, solid Douglas fir, a stunning brass café counter and recycled plastic flooring by Bolon. The longevity and ageing of the materials were dominant in the selection process, ensuring not only low or no maintenance under daily wear and tear, but, when the time came, the materials could be sanded or treated to bring them back to their day one glory.
The Bolon flooring also works to improve the natural light penetration into the heart of the office. Its reflective quality bounces daylight further into the space which serves to create a better working environment across a large floorplate.
The use of brass in the kitchen and café areas, in addition to harmonising with Cundall’s focus on natural materials, gives the additional benefit of being extremely hygienic. Copper alloys, like brass, are antimicrobial. They have an inherent ability to kill a wide range of harmful microbes rapidly and with a high degree of efficiency. They prevent surfaces becoming “reservoirs” for harmful microbes.
However durability and sustainability could not always be reconciled. For example, water-based paints were used extensively in the office because of their low VOCs content, even though water-based paints will not be as durable as oil-based.
There is only one unused parking space at One Carter Lane. Conversely, there are 115 staff cycle racks and additional visitor cycle racks.
All staff use public transport or, better still, walk and cycle, and Cundall’s Green Travel Plan sets out transport nodes, bus routes and Boris bike stations.
A profusion of changing and shower facilities support more of Cundall’s staff in living healthy lifestyles; cycling to work, attending the gym and generally improving their health. A weekly yoga class has also been arranged to help staff exercise and relax.
Innovation was also extended to the equipment installed. Telephones were replaced with Skype for Business (formerly Microsoft Lync®), revolutionising communication and extending the workspace beyond the four walls of the office itself. HD video cameras, audio headsets and dual monitor screens support low-cost immersive video-conferencing and interactive desktop sharing.
This is improving communication between Cundall offices globally, supporting agile home working and encouraging an unprecedented level of working relationships with clients and collaborators who also have the technology.
WELL SCORECARD: features achieved within each concept
Air quality standards (P)
Smoking ban (P)
Ventilation effectiveness (P)
VOC Reduction (P)
Air filtration (P)
Microbe and mold control (P)
Construction pollution management
Cleaning protocol (P)
Fundamental material safety (P)
Direct source ventilation
Outdoor air systems
Fundamental water quality (P)
Inorganic contaminants (P)
Organic contaminants (P)
Agricultural contaminants (P)
Public water additives (P)
Periodic water quality testing
Drinking water promotion
Fruits and vegetables (P)
Processed foods (P)
Food allergies (P)
Hand washing (P)
Food contamination (P)
Artificial ingredients (P)
Nutritional information (P)
Food advertising (P)
Responsible food production
Visual lighting design (P)
Circadian lighting design (P)
Electric light glare control (P)
Solar glare control (P)
Low-glare workstation design
Color quality (P)
Right to light
Interior fitness circulation
Activity incentives programs (P)
Structured fitness opportunities
Exterior active design
ADA Accessible Design Standards (P)
Ergonomics: Visual and Physical (P)
Exterior noise intrusion
Internally generated noise (P)
Thermal comfort (P)
Sound reducing surfaces
Health and wellness awareness (P)
Integrative design (P)
Post-occupancy surveys (P)
Beauty and design I (P)
Biophilia I - qualitative (P)
Stress and addiction treatment
Biophilia II - quantitative
N/A (N/A )
Annual carbon footprint:
N/A (N/A )
Min. temperature =
Max temperature =
No product info available
Studio Ben Allen
Building services engineer:
Bigham Anderson Partnership
Green certification consultant:
Cundall , Kavita Kumari
Cundall , Amie Shuttleworth
No other project by team