Sport England, the country’s leading sports development agency, has approved initial design concepts by Morey Smith for a 2550m2 headquarters in London’s Bloomsbury Square, which it will occupy next year when it restructures its operations.
The organisation, whose Lottery-funded budget is around £170m with a further £35m from central government, is adopting a regional structure that requires fewer staff based in the capital.
A contemporary office environment is a key element of implementing its overall modernisation programme, says Sport England head of admin services and project manager Sandy Blaney.
‘The brief is for an uplifting, inspirational and motivational office space, not a factory floor. We didn’t want a conventional solution [because] we’re moving away from cellular structures toward open-plan working that breaks down the barriers between managers and everyone else,’ Blaney explains.
Morey Smith associate Simon Flint says the group was briefed to deliver a design that was ‘not sport-specific’ but gives a general ‘feel of sport’, and also reflects the organisation’s brand, which features the St George’s Cross.
The design includes a glass reception area with a red rubber desk to ‘subtly’ represent the red of the cross, explains Flint.
A ‘work, play and media’ area is also planned, with a ‘heavily stitched leather wall’ that represents a cricket ball and a ‘yacht-style’ teak wall.
Flint says audio visual technology plays a large part in the design, contributing a ‘sense of movement’ to the space.
The office, due to open in May 2003, will accommodate 180 staff. It takes up one floor of an eight-storey Will Alsop-designed building in London’s Bloomsbury. Sport England’s current premises, also in London, houses around 400 people, many of whom will be relocated to regional offices.
Morey Smith was appointed in September following a six-way, informal pitch.