Hiscox’s Flagship London Office at 22 Bishopsgate
Anticipating a relocation to its new London headquarters at 22 Bishopsgate, in the heart of the city of London, specialist insurer Hiscox aspired to create a space that is a physical expression of its culture, energy and ambition, celebrating the company’s love of art while delivering the best hybrid work and customer experience. Completed in February 2023, the striking, sculptural design was the vision of Oliver Marlow of Studio TILT, who led on re-imagining the space into a contemporary, stylish and elegant workplace.
HDR was appointed to provide holistic building engineering services design and Category B fit-out for the 38,000-square-foot office split across two floors, to accommodate 740 employees. An ambitious project with many moving parts, HDR successfully overcame intricate challenges to deliver a space that meets the needs of today and tomorrow.
Agile and Future-Proofed Spaces
Led by Neil Nash, HDR’s engineering and fit-out project director, the team visualized the initial layout by presenting a more flexible infrastructure solution that complemented the uses of the space, both for now and as a blueprint for future modifications, as the office of tomorrow evolves. This approach enabled Hiscox to reduce the number of workstations and create more collaborative spaces to reflect the post-pandemic hybrid work environment.
Longevity and flexibility underpinned HDR’s approach. Billy Marigold, HDR’s information and communications technology and smart buildings director and the team future-proofed the space by employing a grid-wide infrastructure system, encompassing a low-level and a high-level grid. For the latter, HDR worked closely with Hiscox's IT department to develop a combined ICT and audio-visual network. Instead of working to a rigid pre-established floor plan, HDR rigged the entire space to enable unlimited and cost-free future alterations of connectivity points.
Consequently, aspects which require connectivity, including desks and work hubs, can be moved anywhere within the space for maximum agility and usability, removing constraints and giving employees the freedom and convenience to hold meetings wherever suits them best. This is a true example of an agile workspace.
HDR liaised with the landlord directly on adjusting the original floor plans for a solution tailored more specifically to Hiscox’s needs. As part of this, HDR commissioned and installed an impressive, custom-made spiral timber staircase. Careful consideration was given to identifying the optimum and safest placement for this feature staircase.
HDR implemented a holistic strategy with its structured cabling solution, ascertaining the data point and power requirements to anticipate future changes. This was key, as HDR had to be responsive from day one to provide comprehensive details of the grid, in order to inform the architect’s designs.
HDR had an in-depth involvement in the project from concept stage, maintaining close communication and collaboration with the client throughout to deliver a customized and flexible solution. Led by Mark Tucker, HDR’s Project Manager responsible for the Fit-Out, the team participated in meetings with an array of departments to understand the client’s processes in detail and how these requirements translated to the new space.
The outstanding wider project team brought together Oliver Marlow and Studio TILT, whose architectural vision created the unique sculptural design, Ciszak Dalmas, Ferrari Studio, Studio ZNA and Workform. With all disciplines working together and in tandem with an internal team of Hiscox employees through a ‘Creative Board’, this collaborative approach enabled HDR to gain a true understanding of the Hiscox brand and respond to the brief creatively.
A Unique Marriage of Art and Work
As an Art Underwriter, one of the main objectives for Hiscox was to find an immersive and engaging approach to showcase its extensive art collection. HDR’s tailored engineering design merged the needs of an office with the ambience of a gallery to encourage connections and inspire conversations. The front-of-house experience centers around the Hiscox Art Cafe, the social hub of the space, leading into the fluid and sculptural spaces beyond, supported by an ingenious design which promotes movement and curiosity.
HDR was responsible for the security of the art pieces and created bespoke solutions including stand-alone access restrictions and surveillance. The artwork can be moved around freely as the cameras are easy to reposition, adding to the overall flexibility. Working with an architectural light specialist, HDR also led on all art lighting and spotlights.
The entrance greets visitors with a video artwork, ‘More Than Us’ by Julie Freeman, a beautiful piece that HDR integrated seamlessly into the ceiling. The team also worked around four types of state-of-the-art, elaborately designed ceilings, each presenting different engineering challenges, whereby exploring the addition of access panels, ventilation vents, lights hidden inside thin plasterboard shapes and repositioning entire fan coil units had to be considered.
Project Excellence — the Outcomes
HDR set out to transform an empty and open plan CAT A space into a series of spaces and experiences that flow while providing more cellular areas as required by the brief, for focused and collaborative work. As a client-facing organisation, Hiscox also aspired to create high-quality hosting and catering spaces.
HDR delivered a variety of workspaces, plug-and-play video conferencing units, two presentation spaces, an art café, bathroom, two main kitchens and three supporting ones. The kitchen naturally posed a challenge as the original building plans did not consider private catering facilities. HDR also constructed and fitted two Main Equipment Rooms and one Secondary Equipment Room, complete with a gas suppression system and cooling, critical for a financial institution’s data protection, and support for all of the ICT infrastructure. Furthermore, HDR undertook all mechanical, electrical, public health, plumbing, hydraulics, control systems, together with fire and life safety services.
The project is an exemplar in sustainability, prioritising the use of natural and, where possible, recycled materials. HDR undertook all the engineering services in line with BREEAM Excellent standards and, as part of this workstream, installed a filtration system for recycled air and fresh air intake. The team also adhered to the strict criteria of the WELL Building Standard for a human-centric and well-being focused approach.
The result is an office that can be easily maintained and provides value by delivering a long-term single solution. HDR successfully delivered an interesting and dynamic space whereby people and art are central to the architect's vision. Collaborating with an enlightened client HDR has contributed to an exemplar 21st Century office, delivering on the beauty of the concept without compromising safety or functionality.
HDR was appointed to provide holistic building engineering services design and Category B fit-out, for specialist insurer Hiscox.
Images courtesy of Oliver Marlow Studio Tilt © Ståle Eriksen 2023.