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How do you design an office when your brief is ‘be unreasonable’? You tear up the rule book and make it look like anything but a corporate office.

The London base for Ad Age’s 2017 Agency of the Year was inspired by the company’s ethos to challenge the norm, as Anomaly’s name suggests. The space will support the company’s ongoing growth in Europe, while cementing its culture and providing a home for Anomaly’s diverse, entrepreneurial and creative thinkers from all over the world.

The Brief

Since Anomaly’s ethos is about disrupting and ‘being unreasonable’, it’s only natural that they wanted their fit out to be anything but bland. So, we partnered with architecture firm - Barr Gazetas, and the Anomaly leadership team to design and build an office that celebrated casual working. The result is inspiring, informal and anything but normal.

Casual spaces

The client wanted to embrace informal working, so we designed the fit out to make full use of different activity-based working zones. This means that there’s somewhere for almost every occasion in the office; be it the timber bleachers that double for team meetings and as group work spaces, or the long shared timber benches, or the airport-style cosy chairs looking out over London’s skyline. An impressive 75% of the floorspace has been used for informal working spaces.

In keeping with each of the other six international Anomaly offices, this space in London is completely open plan, purposefully designed to support Anomaly’s ethos of open, entrepreneurial and collaborative working.

The perfect partnership

Reflecting the anything-but-normal nature of the client, we also took an unusual approach to deliver this project by teaming up with the client’s chosen architecture firm, Barr Gazetas. This allowed us to combine the skills of a dedicated architecture practice with our design and build expertise, creating a workplace with a difference. Right from the outset, we felt an immense responsibility to develop the Barr Gazetas concept into designs and a physical space that would have a huge impact on life within Anomaly’s walls.

Anything but a normal office space

The anti-corporate approach is evident from the moment you arrive. We’ve done away with a standard reception desk, and instead visitors can wait in an arrivals lounge on the 6th floor. Here, they can order a drink from the bar, take in the breathtaking views over London, or head straight into the 1,000 sq ft boardroom.

The office has been designed to reflect London’s history, colour, energy and of course - creativity. The space is distinctly British, yet unlike anything you’ll have seen before! At the heart of the office is an impressive recycled timber staircase, cut straight through the concrete slab between the two floors.

The unfinished edges deliberately contrast the smooth clean lines provided within the landlord’s Cat A fit out. The stairs form part of an integrated auditorium and casual working space, made up of tiered bleacher seating. This provides an ideal space for presentations and team meetings, while also acting as an informal workspace. Quiet reading booths are cut into the rear of the bleachers, providing. The staircase is central to the loose clustering of communal and solitary spaces that allow employees to choose the way they work, depending on their mood and task at hand.

Reflecting the local surroundings

The interiors of the global agency’s London office reflect London’s history, its creativity and the the context of Helical’s new development. Lining the stairwell is a unique graphic wall art by artist SHOK I, who is also working on a memorial for London’s Borough Market.

The stairwell mural relates to the plague burial ground in Charterhouse Square and features translucent bones on a black background. The colour palette for the interiors references the traditional Fox and Anchor pub nearby. There are also references to the building’s previous life as a hat factory.

Pushing deadlines

Our team had to work fast to complete an entire floor so that the Anomaly team could move in and settle into their new home while the second floor was completed. This is why the biggest structural part of the work – building the staircase – was completed upfront to minimise disruption to the day-to-day operations. From receiving the drawings of the building to apply the finishing touches, the staircase took three just weeks – a process that normally takes two months!

Flexible furnishings

The furniture is an eclectic mix of new, repurposed and vintage pieces which are mixed to create a lively and unconventional environment. Neon signs, custom made coffee bars and distressed furniture all mingle together to complement the feel. Much of the raised floor has been left exposed as metal surfaces and the idea of “raw and cooked” works for all material choices including Crittal style glazing, timber floor finishes, raw ply linings, scaffold board cladding, raw lacquered steel and metal mesh.

Re-defining ‘normal’

The project has an arrivals bar and lounge, a client facing pitch room, open plan office space, lounge spaces known as “edges”, meeting rooms of varying sizes, edit and photography suites, a design studio, an auditorium, a library, telephone booths and lockers. It’s hardly your everyday city-centre office fit out. The office environment plays such an important role in creating and promoting a certain culture, which why this space had to meet Anomaly’s objective of attracting and retaining employees who challenge the norm.

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