Oak and steel compliment heritage brick in carbon neutral mews house refurbishment for sustainable agriculture company’s London office

Just completed in a quiet mews at the heart of Paddington is the new office of a business that invests in sustainable agriculture. Designed by Edward Williams Architects, the part-restoration, part-rebuild project has transformed the shell of a double fronted mews building into a contemporary and timeless workplace. The office will be a zero carbon exemplar, emitting no greenhouse gas emissions once occupied.

Edward Williams Architect adopted a zero carbon sustainable strategy for the 210sq m building by replacing the gas supply with 100% renewable electricity bought from a sustainable source. Known for a creative approach to design, using natural materials and for the honest expression of structure and detailing, the architect has retained and restored as much as possible of the existing building fabric to achieve an economy of materials and a sense of historic place. Where new structural fabric was necessary, natural materials have been used wherever possible, including substantial new oak joists that have replaced the rotting timber structures, sized to meet contemporary fire-prevention standards.

Edward Williams said,

“The challenge was to redevelop substantially the existing small mews building without losing any of the character – indeed adding character where possible.”

Externally, the refurbishment respects the existing building features and is sensitive to the mews context. The three-storey building sits comfortably alongside the other buildings in the small mews, with lead roofing and windows matching its neighbours’. New structural elements were designed to be fabricated off-site and then elegantly “bolted” together on-site to maximise quality, and reduce the installation period, construction waste, and noise, to the benefit of neighbours in the mews.

Inside, the client wanted a modern aesthetic, with in-built flexibility for various office uses including an informal gathering area for the whole team, smaller spaces for private working, and larger spaces for board meetings. The property has been cleverly planned by the architects to allow for maximum flexibility without detracting from the intimate, friendly atmosphere that is characteristic of the office/the mews house’s space. As well as its versatile layout, the property is further future-proofed by allowing for flexible installation and removal of office partitions.

The mews entrance opens straight into a ground floor reception, which doubles as a conference room and eating area. A double set of glazed, folding garage-style doors allows natural light to flood the interior, and when fully opened in the summer, the doors create a seamless connection to the picturesque mews outside.  The exposed soffit timbers in the 3.4 m high ceiling create a sculptural element, with the huge joists of new, natural oak bringing depth to the interior.

The offices derive their character from the exposed brickwork, the new oak panels which line the walls elsewhere, the exposed oak joists in the ceiling, and dark grey painted steel throughout. This creates a modern industrial aesthetic, well-lit and spacious and warm and woody.

A bespoke contemporary oak staircase that steps in plan from ground floor to first provides an elegant view all the way up the building. Cellular offices are divided by glass partitions, moveable allowing different internal configurations, yet providing privacy, while allowing the light from the buildings’ many original or renewed windows to percolate throughout.

High quality finishes and furnishing have been specified by the architect including lighting by Tom Dixon along with BEGA and Kreon. Herman Millar Aeron Chairs sit alongside Eames-style office chairs, and the dining area features a HAY Frame bench and table.  On the ground level, the flooring is Corestone resin in vintage desert solid. The upper floors feature Junkers flooring in a matt lacquered finish. Vitsoe shelving is used throughout.

With substantial use of timber, fire proofing was an important consideration.  The timber is pressure impregnated to achieve class 0 fire rating and skilful fire engineering has removed the need for intrusive fire systems such as fire curtains.

This mews office is one of authentic London character: a contemporary warm woody interior with ample daylight and views out onto the mews. Its flexible internal spaces, furniture of international design names, and zero carbon sustainable strategy make it a suitably contemporary project for the client’s London outpost.