Adding value to office design through roof terraces; featured in OnOffice

Due to recent circumstances the necessity for outdoor space has never been more important, not only due to the pandemic but also the general move towards improving mental and physical wellbeing within the workplace. With the average person spending 30% of their life working and the move back to office environments commencing, outdoor office space is a crucial amenity.

Currently on site, White Lion Street, is GPAD’s largest project to date. The new development is a seven storey office building in the heart of Angel, Islington. White Lion Street introduces a contemporary identity through materiality and an open floorplate design, creating much needed workspace in the area.

When the planning application was originally made back in 2018, the main focus for the developers was leading towards maximising net internal area as this is what their profits are based on. Now, more recently, we have seen a shift in tenant priorities due to employers prioritising the health and wellbeing of their employees. This created an opportunity to make a separate application whilst the site is in its construction phase to include more outside space.

Conscious to not reduce the internal workspace available, the new terraces were placed in areas which were originally flat roofs. The large roof terrace will include seating and biodiversity with wildflower planting. To ensure minimal overlooking, the design includes green screening, using a biodiverse range of tall planting and trees to minimise overlooking and provide better aspect views for the surrounding residents.

There has always been rental premium attached to space that has access to outside space, whether communal or private. However, in recent years there has been a shift in the priority for wellness in occupants for office landlords and agents. Since the beginning of the pandemic, wellness has been further promoted and deemed essential in welcoming back staff to the workspace.

For a while now we have seen the benefits of increasing indoor plants into the office, increasing oxygen and for better brain productivity. By introducing more than just seating on terraces you create a calming atmosphere with prolonged benefits. GPAD’s relationship with John Davies Landscape has showcased how their designs are more than the architecture but the environment they produce. Their award winning design for Stylus is an example of how a smaller terrace can embody a soothing environment through striking seating, planting and green walls.

Continuing their work with John Davies Landscape earlier this summer, GPAD developed a sustainable urban environment atop Tailors Corner, a new commercial refurbishment in Leeds. The creation of the garden contributes to urban greening and can help form a network of wildlife corridors, encouraging biodiversity. Not only do we notice the physical and mental health benefits introducing a roof terrace to the workplace but also the opportunity for social interaction and inclusion. Not to exclude the functional purpose of a roof terrace; for meetings, break out and lunchtime spaces.

16 Eastcheap, a refurbishment of a late-Victorian building by GPAD, includes a new roof terrace with the aim to reduce work related stress for tenants and increase workplace productivity through improving memory and focus. As well as the health benefits, the new terrace reconnects the experience of the building to its central location by unlocking panoramic views across the city.

For commercial buildings to thrive they need to stay relevant and adjust to the requirements of the tenants. This involves tackling the bigger questions currently being raised around the future of the office and how will they look post-pandemic. With a large focus on mental wellbeing in the workplace and how to encourage positive productivity, external workspaces are a step in the right direction and one GPAD are keen to continue to pursue in future developments.

As featured in OnOffice.

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ALASDAIR BROWNLOW

SENIOR ARCHITECT