Free-flowing collaboration

WaterAid is a charity with a clear mission; to get clean water, hygiene and sanitation to everyone, everywhere by 2030. They gave us an equally clear mission; to design and build a sustainable, collaborative and engaging office fit out.

Canary Wharf

25,000 sq ft

Driven by sustainability

Moving from Vauxhall to Canary Wharf was a chance for WaterAid to change the way their teams interacted with one another, while also moving closer to some of their key donors in Canary Wharf.

The move allowed the charity to consolidate its teams into a single 25,000 sq ft open plan office, giving an abundance of open and inclusive workspaces design to enable them to reach their mission.

Fabric colour swatches for office design process
WaterAid office reception fit out
Agile workspace design kanban board

Starting the journey

Being a charity, transparency throughout all stages of the project was paramount. We ensured key stakeholders, along with the WaterAid board, were onboard for each of the project’s milestones.

We began a workplace consultancy journey, which allowed us to hear from representatives from each of WaterAid’s teams on how they would be able to get the most out of the space and work best together.

Understanding the needs of each team was critical to making collaborative design decisions; from deciding on the finishes, to the number of flexible working areas, and even the location of the reception.

The office's design

Since WaterAid was moving all of their staff onto a single floor for the first time, our design brief was centred around boosting collaboration and staff interaction. This saw the introduction of open plan workstations, breakout spaces, flexible project work zones and numerous tea points and water stations throughout the 25,000 sq ft space.

WaterAid office design ideas for collaboration

The hanging divide

A key factor in any open plan office is dealing with acoustics and striking the right balance between open communication and a comfortable ambient noise level. We addressed this through the extensive use of hanging wall dividers, which also allows the office layout to be reconfigured with relative ease.

These panels are made from recycled plastic and have special acoustic absorbing qualities that reduce ambient noise transfer in an open plan environment. Plus, we’ve designed them in WaterAid’s colour palette and used the water droplet icon to connect the workspace to their distinct brand. This same material was used to create water droplet styled acoustic absorbent ceiling rafts, meaning employees can see water, no matter where they look.

WaterAid's office acoustical design panels
Wateraid breakout space fit out

Our designer's favourite space

A central tea point/ townhall hub is a key area for any workplace. It promotes downtime away from desks, provides an alternate work setting and most of all, brings people together.

WaterAid was looking for a flexible central wellbeing area that could double as a Town Hall setting to host organisational briefings and stakeholder/partner events.

The design choices in this space reflect WaterAid’s colour palette with solid greens, earthy tones and of course, plenty of nature-inspired finishes.

This really is an inspiring space that’s inviting and perfect for a coffee, lunch or a meeting. It’s no wonder it’s designer Faith’s favourite spot in this project.

Wateraid wellbeing workspace design

Choose your own workspace

An open plan 25,000 sq ft floorplate provides endless design opportunities. Flexible partitions allow the space to be adjusted as team sizes flex and office requirements change. Flexible project spaces with standing tables and writable walls are adjacent to workstations, allowing for collaboration or a more dedicated project setup.

Meeting rooms and booths are finished to a soundproof standard, ensuring that privacy is available when needed. These are accompanied by individual phone pods and smaller soundproofed spaces that allow confidentiality, regardless of the meeting size. We also designed an area for a dedicated recording and podcast studio, providing professional facilities for WaterAid to create fundraising materials; saving money on studio rates.

WaterAid open plan office layout

Maximum light, minimum glare

Taking advantage of the floor-to-ceiling windows with views out over Canary Wharf, we chose off white workstations to minimise glare, and placed them around the periphery of the office to maximise exposure to natural light and vitamin D.

WaterAid office design for natural light
WaterAid's office cafe fit out

Wellbeing and accessibility

The office was designed to be accessible from day one; with height-adjustable workstations, accessible door handles (even for the under-kitchen cupboards) and offset glass manifestations to ensure safety and accessibility for all.

The office also supports employee wellbeing, with a mother’s room, a prayer/wellbeing space and thanks to the movable partitions, the ability to host lunch time or after hours yoga sessions discreetly in a meeting room.

WaterAid office design wellbeing

Sustainably sourced

Sustainable and recycled materials were a big factor in this project. We were able to recycle a third of WaterAid’s existing furniture and integrate it into the new design.

Where new furniture was needed, we ensured all materials were sustainably sourced and environmentally friendly. New furniture was chosen to encourage new ways of working; like meeting pods that provide the perfect space for casual meetings and catch-ups.

WaterAid sustainable office design

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