Multimedia property centre and design studio

Opened: October 1999

Budget: Undisclosed

Style: State-of-the-art marketing suite and offices (basement to 5th floor) owned by Langham Estates

Brand identity and all interior and graphic design: First Partnership

Shopfitter: Faithdean

Digital media: Deepend

Interior lighting: Concord

Signage: Photobition

Furniture and feature lighting: Coexistence and SCP

Specialist joinery (designed by First Partnership, made by Nicholas Pryke)

Limestone Flooring: World’s End Tiles

Jonathan Blakeney, First Partnership

‘The Metropolis team had a fairly clear idea of the type of operation it wanted, a marketing suite unlike any other to give people the opportunity to experience apartments and houses without visiting the site itself. The concept is to give the customer a complete choice of interiors at an early stage. So the starting point was to approach it from a brand perspective.

Faithdean was responsible for the entire fit-out and we worked with its team and its sub-contractors throughout the project, starting in February this year. It had a continuous presence on-site; we had weekly meetings initially to fine tune and develop the project with the fitters, so it was practical to implement. That regular one-to-one communication avoided a lot of paperwork – it also meant that the project stayed on track.

The building is more than 100 years old and had been unoccupied for ten years, so it was a very difficult site. It required a lot of preliminary work to get the shell of the building to the required standard. We put in a brand new cast concrete staircase with stainless steel balustrading, and added steel reinforcement to the door linking the basement and ground floor.

The tight timescale was the main problem. We spent far more time on-site than we normally do. The standard of finish was crucial, so there was constant quality control throughout the project.

As designers, we got what we expected from Faithdean and the end result is a credit to everyone involved. As for relationships between shopfitters and designers, there’s more that could be done from both sides to improve things. There is still a tendency for both parties to be critical of each other.’

Jonathan New, Faithdean

‘This was the first time we’d worked with First Partnership and it wasn’t our normal type of job. Although the high quality work was very familiar to us, this type of semi-retail work isn’t our forte – we work more in the financial sector.

There were typical problems on the job which related to its size. The ground and basement floors were extremely small spaces and we had to put in the curved concrete staircase; preparatory work for that really renders a lot of the area sterile, you can’t work anywhere else until that is complete. Because of the high class finish, we had to employ a lot of specialist sub-contractors – eight to ten to do the various finishing works. That made the project much more complicated to co-ordinate.

We liaised well with First Partnership; the group made off-site visits to joinery and glazing contractors to check that the fittings were being correctly manufactured. With the more complicated designs, there could have been big delays if they came in wrong. Any details that didn’t work were ironed out in the development stages.

It was an intricate job, but the success was down to the fact that we had an older, experienced on-site project manager, George Buckland. He’s got a lot of practical experience which I think First Partnership respected – and he knows how to do things to the best advantage of the design aims.’

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