Central Working is a UK-wide network of shared workspaces, housing 3,500 entrepreneurs and businesses of all sizes. Since its launch in 2011, Central Working has played an integral role in the growth of the UK's tech community, developing sites in London, Manchester, Reading, Slough and Cambridge.The co-working operator offers companies the flexibility to scale – whether for start-ups in need of hot desks, or blue-chip companies looking for serviced offices to house their innovation teams.
Kinnersley Kent Design‘s concept for Central Working in Victoria, London, is designed to anticipate the needs of the modern start-up community with an all-inclusive hospitality-first approach. Part of Grosvenor’s new mixed-use Eccleston Yards development, it houses over 500 entrepreneurs across 28,000sq ft of space in a refurbished Victorian electrical substation.
In line with Central Working’s service-led ethos, Kinnersley Kent Design’s interior concept puts social hospitality at the heart of the experience with a central members’ lounge and kitchen. Catering for a group that rarely conforms to a nine-to-five routine, sleep pods are available to provide rest and relaxation, and there’s a 70-seat auditorium to accommodate visiting lecturers from the tech and creative industries.
The space is divided into a range of adaptable, functional and interesting work areas that foster collaboration while providing varying levels of privacy. Instead of the long corridors typically found in office buildings, Kinnersley Kent Design tailored the layout to create a wide variety of breakout areas, unexpected niches and ‘hideaways’. This breaks up the vast space, creating interesting new sightlines and introducing outdoor views and daylight from every angle. It also influences how members navigate the building – the designers intentionally created more than one way to get from A to B to encourage more opportunities for chance encounters.
The interior design is welcoming and creative, with a ‘four-star hotel’ feel. The concept celebrates the Victorian building, highlighting architectural nuances by juxtaposing original features with modern interventions.
The materials palette underscores the building’s former industrial use while adding a refined elegance. Materials include steel, light and dark timber, original Victorian bricks and off-white wall tiles, brass highlights, glass, and slim black metal frames that emphasise transitions between the old and new parts of the building. ‘Arcade B’ wallpaper from Texturae’s ‘Warp’ collectiondecorates feature walls with trompe-l’oeil arches, echoing the building’s original architecture.
The designers chose a considered mix of contemporary furniture and lighting, peppered with modern design classics. The non-corporate aesthetic is stylishly domestic; the members’ lounge avoids ‘private members’ club’ design clichés and instead features statement black and white checkerboard floor tiles, and a historic fireplace refurbished with ‘Victorian’ patterned tiles.
The colour palette is built around sophisticated shades of blue. Accent colours such as yellow and burnt ochre are introduced through the furniture and fixtures, adding relaxed luxury.