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A Sympathetic Architectural Interior Refurbishment

I’m currently sat in my garden using my outdoor furniture as a desk, the sun is shining, my baby girl is having a nap in her cot and here I am thinking – this all seems a lovely way to be able to work. Covid-19 has certainly given us all a lot to think about, a majority of businesses have been able to get back to some sort of normality in the workplace and there are some still having to work from home. This being said it gives us the thought of how we make the most of what we have got.

Refurbishing an existing office or making your ‘home office’ better is all possible to be achieved within helping to accomplish a space that is right for you and your employees as well as maintaining focus to get their work done and keep businesses a float. Right now, everyone needs a working space that helps their mental wellbeing whilst still having focus, functionality and design.

In 2018 London’s mayor stated a climate emergency which lead to two-thirds of London boroughs coming up with strategies to get the emissions lower. Demolishing buildings and building new ones creates a huge amount of waste and if not managed properly it generates air and noise pollution, not to mention the materials used to construct a new building. There has to be a better way, yes?

The good news is there is, refurbishing a space and making use of the space to its best ability is certainly the best solution to explore and is now gaining a lot of traction. This will generate less waste, cause less pollution and uses fewer materials. Of course there will always be a need for sustainable new buildings but lets explore the opportunity of an office refurbishment, London are already doing this on a global scale, so why can’t we in Devon?!

Leases are getting shorter on commercial properties, people want to be up and running quickly and efficiently and kitted out with the latest technology. The quick turnarounds offered by the option of refurbishing should be very appealing to a lot of businesses. There is also a great appeal to having one large office space co-habited with different businesses of like-minded people, we feel this is a great opportunity to not only network with different businesses but to work together and improves the energy of a space.


One thing that is key to point out – this doesn’t have to be a ‘new’ building, we can make use of an old building which with a unique design keeps the elegance of the historic building with a contrast of a contemporary functional interior and gives it a new lease of life. Many old buildings (if not listed properties) sometimes get ignored and knocked down to then build something new, as long as the building is safe and surveyed this will save a lot of historic buildings. And of course this doesn’t stop just at an office, this can be a restaurant, bar, events space etc.

We are currently working on a project called Winslade Park with Burring Estates, which takes a complex of buildings, two of which are listed. The historic Manor and Winslade House which is a listed 1970 structure are to be given a sensitive make over and a new lease of life. This ground breaking scheme promotes a way to work dedicated to health and wellbeing. The complex itself houses offices spaces, personal training facilities, opened air terraces, a leisure complex and restaurants.  Within Winslade House we have worked closely with Heritage and Planning to allow for certain features like an exposed concrete ceiling to be allowed to create the effect that we are trying to achieve.

So what factors do we actually look at to create a space that is functional, appealing and excellent for refurbishing an existing building?

We consider the following:

  • A clear strategy and strong vision for the completed space. Keeping the historic purpose and feeling of the space.
  • The size and flexibility of the space
  • The company (or companies) using the space -Branding, Technology, Purpose
  • Daylight and Fresh air – good aircon and windows that open. Solar screen blinds which filter the light
  • Ceiling heights and key historical features – Quirky elements that are already integrated into the building which can be made key features or given architectural merit
  • Facilities – showers, changing areas, WC, kitchen etc how can they be incorporated into a historic space where they do not dominate

Just replacing the facilities (bathroom, kitchen) and adding a lick of paint is nowhere near enough to make a drab office block any more inspiring. We as designers need to work together with the Developer or client to reimagine a space that makes the most of its already evident potential.

As a quick turn key project we are currently refurbishing Nexusmods which is a company who are involved with creating video games. There office space is within a converted hospital. It has high grand ceilings, sloping corridor like spaces and external windows incorporated into internal walls. These quirky features we have enhanced by making the corridor a gaming space and window dents a photo gallery. We have added a library area behind crittall windows as a nod to the industrial historic architecture of the building.

Do you have a old / not used building in need of a new lease of life. If so a sympathetic interior architectural make over might be needed. Give us a shout to see if we can give an innovative creative solution.

Thanks for reading 😊

Ashton – Residential Manager @ idesign