The British Council has a policy of commissioning up-and-coming artists for the reception areas of its global offices. ‘Promoting the arts is an important part of what [the British Council] stands for,’ says Chapman Taylor director of interiors and graphics Hilary Clayton-Mitchell.
The Paris office is no exception. The British Council’s calling card to France, it is currently being refurbished and due for completion in October. Contracts for the building work are currently out to tender and art work will be commissioned in September, she says.
But that’s not all. Chapman Taylor is offering off-the-street computer facilities to visitors and public alike in the reception area, including Internet access and global television news channels. This will encourage people to treat the foyer as a ‘stop-off’ point rather than somewhere people pass through, Clayton-Mitchell says.
Low-level timber screens will conceal the eight terminals from the busy entrance area. To keep the space flexible, however, all will be mounted on casters, which enables the British Council to clear the foyer for special events.
The reception waiting area features cafÃ©-style newspapers mounted on sticks, periodicals, journals, books and tub chairs. It also incorporates a children’s’ waiting area, where they can play in between English lessons in classrooms in the building.
Adjacent to the lobby is a ‘knowledge and learning centre’, linked by a glass partition – a soundproofed area for small study groups.