Industry Evolution Drives Collaborative Design for BBH

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Advertising agency BBH London moved into their central London offices a decade ago. When looking to update the space, they enlisted the help of Urban Salon to integrate their workforce and reinforce the creative mindset of the firm through design. It was a collaborative design effort.

Said Alex Mowat’s  Director of Urban Salon, “Advertising has changed significantly in the past decade or so and requires a more collaborative and fluid team-based approach. BBH’s challenge to us was to help them change from being a business with a creative department to a vibrant and inclusive studio.”

Close to London’s Soho, their offices are arranged with different departments spread over three floors around a large marble-clad atrium. Urban Salon removed the glass partitions separating the office departments to allow movement between teams across the atrium. New bamboo-clad staircases use acoustic plasterboard with a random perforated pattern to create new physical connections between floors. These materials extend around the central space on each floor forming a balustrade bar top for staff to use, and a new spiral staircase connects all floors and provides fast vertical circulation.

The second floor is a flexible working and meeting space for up to 400 people. Bespoke benches incorporate sofas for informal meetings, and eleven creative “think box” meeting rooms with colorful built-in seats and bar worktops are located across the office floor plate. These have surfaces on the external and internal walls for staff to pin up their work.

Said Nick Gill, Executive Creative Director at BBH London, “It’s open. It’s inclusive. It’s creative. It’s cool. It’s light. It’s connected. It has space to show and share things. It has 30 percent more social space. It has 11 creative think-boxes, exclusively for creatives to weave their magic. It’s true that your environment affects how you feel and how you work. Well, it has never felt better coming to work as it does now.”

Individual offices located around the outer perimeter of each floor have been given new graphic wall treatments including origami graphics, maps, and graphic paper which encourage staff to share their creative ideas. Under the existing barrel vault roof, acoustic fins have been clad in natural wood wool to provide acoustic absorption and solar shading for the central studio space.

The refurbishment took place while the office remained in situ and was phased into two halves. In order to make staff feel a part of the refurbishment, Urban Salon created windows through the hoarding into the site and commissioned artists, illustrators, and BBH staff to graffiti artwork around the hoarding on the perimeter of the atrium.

Said Charlie Rudd, Managing Director at BBH, “In a creative business, happy people have better ideas so your environment can directly affect your output. BBH has re-engineered the way it works over the last four years in order to be more collaborative and to liberate our creativity. The building refurb was the final part of that process and has become the physical embodiment of our ambition. The space feels more open, light, contemporary and exciting.”

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