The Modern House moves to a new office occupying a former church hall in Southwark
Having outgrown our old office in Islington, a former photography studio furnished with Mid-Century furniture and handmade desks by Turner Prize-winning architects Assemble, we’ve moved to new premises in Southwark.
Our new headquarters occupy a converted 1930s church hall, which was given a light-handed makeover by TDO architecture to comprise a flexible, functional space for our ever-growing team, which has doubled in the last two years.
Nicola, you were involved with the new office from the get-go, can you explain how we found this space?
Nicola: “We were looking for a new space for a while and wanted an interesting building with high ceilings and lots of natural light.
“Although when we found this one it had been empty for 18 months and was a bit ramshackle, we could see that the bare bones of it were really good.”
What was it like?
Nicola: “It had orange walls and scuffed up laminate flooring, but there were also original ecclesiastical plaques and the amazing globe pendants, which we haven’t changed.
“We got in touch with TDO architecture, who are based just around the corner, and they worked to improve it and make it usable for us, while respecting and celebrating the original fabric of the building.”
Georgia and Olivia, what do you like about the space?
Georgia: “The ceiling heights make it feel cavernously big, in a good way; we have much more breathing space here.”
Olivia: “Yes, the main office space has a very serene feel to it. It feels more home-like than other offices because of the way you move around different rooms and spaces.
“The second hall feels like a dining room might in a home: you don’t necessarily always use it, but you really enjoy the fact that it’s there.
“It’s also great having a separate dining room and kitchen for us to eat in because it feels like it’s very much our social space – sort of like one big flat, in that way.”
Charlie, does the move feel significant for the company?
Charlie: “Yes, absolutely, being here feels very optimistic. We have made huge progress as a company in the last few years and so to have extra space for events and parties, or potentially expand into one day, is incredibly exciting.
“To be engaged with a building that we would sell if it were on the market allows us to confidently demonstrate the design and architecture values of the company. That’s the aspect I am finding most exciting about being here: the fact that we have an experiential manifestation of what we believe in.
“Also, as a team, we feel more invested in the building because we all moved here together. There’s a greater sense of ownership that comes with that.”
Do you find that the design of the space has impacted on the way the team works?
Olivia: “Yes, it has, for the better. Because we are all essentially on one big table, there’s a greater sense of being one team, even though there are different zones within that.
“The teams are much more blended now, whereas in the old office we’d only get the chance to interact with each other at lunch. Here, there’s a greater sense of fluidity.”
And what about the local area?
Georgia: “I really like it. The Tate Modern is so close; there are loads of galleries and cafes nearby; the other day I loved walking across Waterloo Bridge straight into Covent Garden and Soho.
“Even going out for a quick walk at lunch is explorative because there’s such a variety of architecture around here. You see a combination of old almshouses, contemporary office buildings, the Victorian train infrastructure and Georgian townhouses; there’s a real layering of history.”
Charlie: “It’s always good to explore a new area, and especially this one. It’s not as homogenised as other parts of central London but it’s also well-established enough to have lots of interesting design and architecture studios, especially on Bermondsey Street.”
Nicola, now we’re in, how does it feel?
Nicola: “It was really exciting to see a project through from start to finish, and to get involved in pretty much every detail, right down to what chairs and plants we bought.
“When we first started looking for a space, we went to see a lot of converted warehouses in east London. They were great spaces, with lots of natural light and tall ceilings, but they invariably felt a bit start-up. This feels more mature and established, and also individual. Not many people have converted a church hall in the centre of the city into an office space!”