Ropemaker

Ropemaker

Architect
Clive Wilkinson Architects
Location
London, United Kingdom | View Map
Project Year
2011
Category
Offices
Riddle Stagg Photographers

Ropemaker

Clive Wilkinson Architects as Architects

Macquarie’s Ropemaker Place was designed as a model for a new transparency in banking services revolving around an open atrium and connecting staircase. By virtue of their size, large corporations face a spatial problem of creating a unified community and leveraging their considerable knowledge sharing potential. The Australian financial services company, Macquarie, took a radical approach to connecting its separate divisions with its new London headquarters. Having been fragmented in different buildings, Macquarie leased 216,000SF in 6 large floors for 1,800 staff in a new LEED Platinum/BREAAM rated building. The worldwide convention in banking is to restrict exposure to its operations, and convey an image of fortress-like stability, traceable back to its past as the safety chest for people’s life savings. In 2011, money isn’t preserved in bank vaults anymore, and, indeed, banking operations have become severely criticized for their secrecy and opacity. With Ropemaker Place, Macquarie has adopted a reverse approach of maximizing transparency, clearly revealing its business operations, while at the same time conveying the reassuring message of immovable stability. Stacked floors in office buildings provide an innate barrier to business connectivity. In an effort to facilitate a clear and open connection between the corporate divisions, the project team worked with Macquarie to carve out a new vertical opening in the form of an Atrium. Working between the existing structural steel bays, a six-story organically shaped volume was created. Planned along desire lines connecting the different functions, a new continuous staircase traverses the Atrium and has become the visible banner of connectivity. To stress its importance in connectivity, the stair was painted red, with LED lights illuminating the treads. While the Atrium serves to connect the businesses, it also becomes a bridge into the workings of the bank for visitors. Clients and visitors are greeted in the ground floor lobby and emerge, via elevators, on the Level 11 Guest Relations area. From here, they engage in confidential dealings in private rooms, use the conference or event spaces, or meet within the atrium volume and enjoy clear views into all the Macquarie workspace. Their options include enjoying a coffee in the Level 1 business lounge, a formal lunch in the dining rooms, a cocktail reception in the L11 conference rooms, a presentation in an atrium pod overlooking the trading room floor, or morning tea in the L8 cafe. Just as there are different experiences for visitors and users, two separate messages about the brand coincide. The entry sequence for visitors is shaped by a message of simplicity and restraint which begins at the ground floor street presence and follows through to the Level 11 guest spaces. The linear ‘pin-stripe’ of City tradition informs the architectural design and graphics, with more exuberant expression in the linear ceiling treatment. Once immersed in the Atrium space, the brand becomes more provocative and informal, with the building structure exposed and the clear message that this is a modern factory for work. Like a vertical ‘high street’, the new Atrium accommodates key communal functions as genuine destinations, which together create a village of opportunities for the workers. Destinations around the atrium are a mixture of ‘meeting tree’ rooms, staff kitchens on every floor, open work areas, Level 11 Guest Relations facilities and amenity spaces like the Level 8 Café, the garden terrace and Engine Room and the Level 6 Business Lounge. Staff kitchens have been designed in the round, to encourage face-to-face communication. While client advisory businesses are higher in the Atrium, the lowest two floors are devoted to Trading Rooms and their support functions, and form the base of the new organization. The trading rooms have innovative building services solutions. These include a unique cooling system that includes chilled beams and water-cooled desks. The passive custom designed chilled beams avoid drafts and lighting glare, reduce energy costs and provide more fresh content to the conditioned air. Several sustainable initiatives are achieved with the building, including significant decreases in energy consumption, waste and elevator usage, and net carbon footprint reduction, in line with the top rated BREAAM building. Structural beams cut out of the Atrium were reused to create bridges and cantilevered pods. Engineered cellular space reduces churn costs, and a computer-controlled daylight harvesting system with LED lighting provides significant energy savings. Furthermore, an emphasis on foot traffic using the Atrium staircase has cut elevator usage by 75% while promoting employee health. Innovation strategies extended to the project delivery process that cut time and costs radically. Macquarie entered into an Alliance contract with their builder, Overbury, and worked collaboratively with the project team to deliver the project in 12 months from lease agreement to staff move-in. The visible energy of people circulating and interacting in the highly transparent Atrium serves as the catalyst for drawing the different business units together and provides the synergy to collaborate with each other in new business ventures. It further underscores the financial services company’s brand as an agile, forward thinking and highly collaborative 21st Century Company.

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Shoreditch, London, UK - Build completed in 2019
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