Office design: How to combine luxury and practicality
Mishcon de Reya is a leading independent law firm with presence in London, Oxford, Cambridge, Singapore and Hong Kong (through its association with Karas So LLP.
When Mishcon de Reya and Taylor Vinters merged earlier this year, COEL was appointed to design and fit-out the firm’s new Cambridge office.
The client found a great central location, right next to Cambridge station. This was ideal as some of the staff utilising the office would be on a hybrid working style or commuting into the office.
The COEL team was tasked with creating a neutral, sophisticated, high-end space with multiple focus points.
The main challenge in this project was taking possession of a new building. In situations such as this one, our team has to work closely with not only the client but also the landlord and teams in charge of the construction of the building.
Additionally, our M&E and design team had to work from unfinished drawings. To mitigate any potential issues, we conducted surveys, such as validation surveys, to ensure no problems were inherited from the base-build.
Other challenges included:
- Staircase: The client requested the addition of an entrance to the client side of the office in addition to the existing entrance into the staff side. However, the building shell was not designed structurally to allow for this to be added. As a result, we worked with a structural engineer to ensure we could bring the client’s vision to life safely. The solution was to build a metal staircase that was fully built on-site.
- Fire and safety: From the surveys and inspections carried out the fire officers were concerned the building didn’t meet all necessary fire safety requirements. The team took on some of the required work to ensure the building complied with all necessary regulations and communicated regularly with the Building Control throughout the project.
Prioritising privacy and acoustics
Mishcon de Reya deals with highly sensitive information. To provide an adequate level of privacy for both staff and clients, the design team created two distinct zones: one for staff and one for clients.
The client area features meeting rooms with great acoustics and a client lounge with a premium feel. The aim of this area was to provide clients with a luxurious experience as soon as they step into the office.
The staff has a clear focus on functionality, luxury, and staff wellbeing.
Enhancing staff wellbeing
The client prioritised providing employees with a high-end office space, incorporating a wide range of amenities.
The office features a multi-purpose wellness room that has a wheelchair-accessible sink point. This space can also act as a mothers’ room as it includes a fridge for breast milk and a lock on the door for added privacy.
The kitchen is also wheelchair-accessible and includes high-end amenities, such as filtered water, hot water taps and a state-of-the-art coffee machine.
Aesthetics meets functionality
To introduce an added layer of versatility, the design team added folding walls in the client-side meeting rooms. This allows these meeting rooms to be used individually, to host larger meetings or even events.
Diversified meeting spaces
We wanted to make sure we provided the client with different meeting spaces. To achieve this, we included the following in the space:
- Traditional meeting rooms
- Enclosed acoustic pods
- High-back booths
- Staff lounge that can be used for informal meetings
In addition to these, the office includes 30 fixed desks and an agile space with 22 hot-desking spaces.
As part of the client’s focus on overall staff wellbeing and safety, a high-end CO2 monitoring system was installed. All monitoring is done via an app giving Mishcon de Reya full visibility into the air quality of any meeting room and space within the office.
The smart technology is able to recognise whether the meeting rooms are being used individually or if the folding doors are open and treat it as one single environment.