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FIRST LOOK

Airbnb’s office annexe by Threefold Architects references a winter garden

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‘The Orangery’ is a flexible, self-contained event and project space in a former warehouse in Clerkenwell, London

Threefold Architects has recently completed the transformation of a second London workspace for the online marketplace and hospitality company Airbnb. This new space, which has meeting rooms and workspaces for up to 12 people is annexed to Airbnb’s London HQ, which the practice also designed and which completed in January 2016. 

The original main workspace was designed as a ’community’ of varying working environments, intended to echo the forms and spatial characteristics of different elements found in a typical village. An extension of this approach, this new space – which has excellent natural light from existing large timber windows – was conceived of as an orangery or winter garden. The exposed original brickwork, structural steel and braced timber, revealed when earlier wall linings and ceilings were stripped out, has been painted white, creating a neutral backdrop against which key primary structural elements are painted black to highlight them.

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Source: Charles Hosea

The result is a group of connected, light-filled spaces providing a range of activity-based working environments including individual kiosks, larger meeting rooms, open plan shared task-tables and a flexible event/project space. Playing on the exposed original structural fabric of the former warehouse, the main space’s aesthetic of an orangery or winter garden employs a language of lightweight steel-framed bespoke furniture and planting, set against a backdrop of semi-circular recessed arches in birch plywood to one side and with views through large windows to the tree-lined street on the other.

Separate to the main workspace is a secondary flexible space with kitchen and bathrooms. A linear joinery element forms a threshold to the bathrooms and wraps into the corner forming the kitchen. Flexible picnic style tables, benches and trestle furniture are used enabling the area to be reconfigured for a variety of uses, from social gathering for team lunches and events, to a temporary project space or formal training room.

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Architect’s view 

The strategy design proposed two architectural interventions in the main space: arch and frame. The ‘arch’ takes the form of a thickened wall along the back edge of the space, punctured by a series of semi-circular recessed arches formed in plywood which emphasise a threshold or boundary and contain internalised spaces. The ‘frame’ element takes the form of a lightweight steel armature which holds a pair of floating linear desk surfaces running the length of the space and a series of vertically stacked planters. The ground plane is carpeted; the two tones define areas’ movement and focus respectively, and emphasise the line of structure above.

Matt Driscoll, project architect, Threefold Architects

Layout plan the orangery

Project data 

Start on site Jan 2017
Completion March 2017
Gross internal floor area 165m²
Form of contract or procurement route Traditional, IFC 2016
Construction cost Undisclosed
Architect Threefold Architects
Client Airbnb
CDM coordinator Shore Engineering
Approved building inspector Shore Engineering
Main contractor Fiske Interiors Ltd
CAD software used Vectorworks 2014

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