First Impressions Last – fitting out Capital Tower’s welcoming reception area

It’s not necessarily all about office design at Paramount. Every now and then we get to work on a project that involves optimising a workplace that’s not your typical office environment.

In a previous blog, we answered the question, “When is an office design not an office design?” with three examples of these kinds of projects, including the work we did for The Bay Café in Weston Super Mare. While The Bay proved to be the first commercial café that we’d worked on, it certainly wasn’t the last. 

Topland Group, one of Europe’s largest multi-billion pound, privately owned international investment groups, in conjunction with Andrew Wilkes Management, asked us to design and fit out the ground floor of their Capital Tower project in Cardiff, including the front-of-house reception area and a new coffee shop.

Quiet cuppas and private chats

The brief for the coffee shop was to provide a facility that not only serviced the tenants of the building with ‘grab & go’ drinks and snacks but also opened up the ground floor area to members of the public.

Operated by Milk & Sugar, the coffee shop offers café style seating arrangements and quieter areas for a private chat.

Getting together and breaking away

As part of the concept for the ground floor, the scope was to include a number of differing meeting and get-together spaces. These would encourage tenants to break-away from the office space and meet in a more social setting.

As well as the seating in the coffee shop, ‘one to one’ areas and high-back meeting pods were included to offer different settings for meetings. We sourced furniture from Boss Design, Kinnarps and Connection to find the best solutions for the meeting space.

If meeting rooms were in short supply on the various floors, the ground floor reception and coffee shop helped alleviate this with additional space and break-out style office furniture for people to use.

An improved visitor journey

From the new façade, through the revolving door and into reception, the entrance experience aimed to provide visitors with a welcoming and professional first impression to Capital Tower.

This included a new reception desk from Paragon Bespoke Joinery with a solid surface finish and bespoke elements.

As part of the strategy to improve the efficiency of the visitor journey to the lifts, new card-operated speed gates were installed. These recorded the occupancy levels of the building and were linked to the main building security and fire strategy systems. They were controlled via the new reception desk and security set-up.

Once inside, the reception space was designed to be bright, inviting and professional. Mainly white but with splashes of the Capital Tower colours and feature lighting throughout, the reception advertises the brand firmly.

Sympathetic free-standing lighting and artworks by Cardiff-based artist Julia Brooker were included to finish off the design.

Maintaining access and reducing disruption

A major part of the fit out process included removal of the existing revolving door and side screens and then to install a new frontage. The improved frontage included a smaller, more efficient door which offered more space to the internal building lobby.

As part of the fit-out and project management, a phased programme of works would be required to enable works to continue while the building remained operational.

With a number of complex fit-out elements happening, invariably at the same time, the existing reception had to be accessible for both tenants of the building and its many visitors.

Temporary partitions, a new entrance way utilising existing window openings and steps & ramps were fitted to ensure the flow of people continued efficiently and safely while the works were underway.

The removal of the existing building entrance frontage provided an operational challenge as, for a period, the building had no main entrance. Temporary, secure hoarding was erected until the new dark grey frontage was ready to install.

Aside from the more decorative and interior aspects, the new reception relied heavily on a much-improved mechanical & electrical solution. New and modified heating and ventilation and architectural lighting throughout added to the finished scheme.

Whether a project results in the creation of an office, coffee shop or reception area, the workplace design and fit-out skills involved are always the same.

While the more aesthetic aspects of a design will always be the most impactful, for us overcoming the logistics of completing a fit out can be just as satisfying as seeing a beautifully presented workplace.

From removing a roof to install an air handling unit to ensuring that a reception space remains accessible, we’ll find a way around it so give us a call for your next fit out.

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Categories: Office DesignOffice Fit Out

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