The Bexley First project imaginatively refurbishes a 1980s building to provide a flexible working environment for the London Borough of Bexley’s 1250 council staff. A new, purpose-built extension accommodating democratic facilities consolidates the plan of the existing building and enhances connectivity.
Premised on ‘New Ways of Working’ and low-carbon refurbishment, the project has established a new benchmark for the public sector. This major refurbishment of the former Woolwich Building Society HQ in Bexleyheath, constructed in the late 80s, delivers an improved customer interface, more efficient space utilisation and reduced running costs for the council.
The approach to space planning aims to create a clearly zoned working environment. Meeting space is collected within ‘hubs’ at the centre of each floorplate. Open-plan work areas are arranged around the building’s perimeter, utilising the irregular floor plan to provide a set of environments ideal for team working.
Externally, the simplicity of the new-build extension and entrance canopy contrast with the existing building’s complex form. The extension has been designed to serve the specific requirements of the borough’s democratic process and includes a council chamber which can be subdivided into a number of smaller spaces.
Building on the practice’s experience at Elizabeth II Court for Hampshire County Council, the project tackles the challenge of accommodating a large workforce within an existing building of limited size.