“Reception Areas. What are they for?” asks Richard Hywel Evans

 
 
Studio RHE Reception at The Import Building, Republic

Studio RHE Reception at The Import Building, Republic

On my every day ride from West to East London I get to New Fetter Lane and wonder what are those huge empty double height Reception Areas doing?!

It reminds me of my Mother’s ‘Best Room’ - in case you aren’t familiar with that concept it’s simply a room that is kept completely immaculate on the off chance that a visitor might unexpectedly knock on the door.

So are empty ‘Hero Reception’ areas equally anachronistic?

I understand the concept of them announcing that this is a very expensive and sophisticated building, and that the area is used to securely sanitise the building but does that send the right message in todays society? As it seems, in all things workplace related, we are now following Hotel design fashions and changing these empty vaults, creating amazing inclusive active spaces that make economic sense for both Landlords and Tenants.

Studio RHE Reception at Alphabeta, Finsbury Square, London

Studio RHE Reception at Alphabeta, Finsbury Square, London

The perceived difference of walking into an active busy welcome area from a static empty space manned by a uniformed guard cannot be under estimated. This also has the added benefit to Tenants of holding everyday meetings in this arena reducing the need for under utilised expensive meeting rooms within their own demise, something that doesn’t go unnoticed when it comes to valuations and costs per m2.

So how are these spaces becoming activated and how do you create a new welcome involving arrival experience?

As a part of our choreographed and rehearsed design process we try to create a mix of varied shared and private spaces, ideally adding an independent coffee bar, comfortable and unique furniture with varied highly dramatic painterly lighting. We fully analyse the acoustics to get to that level of buzz that is conducive to conversation with not too much empty echo, and we are introducing music of the right type and volume (which is going up!), get the temperature that is comfortable to existing occupants and the newly arrived visitor and recently the inclusion of scents and essences that have been used widely in the retail arena and varying over the day from White Linen to Citrus.

Studio RHE Reception at Fora, Central Street, London

Studio RHE Reception at Fora, Central Street, London

We are currently enjoying bringing the outside in, with the use of rugged external materials inside, so concrete timber and raw steel are paired and contrasted with precious metals, porcelain and delicate fabrics.

At Fora in Central Street we promoted the idea that perhaps the front of house Barrista would also be the ‘receptionist’. and in Alphabeta we created a huge ovalised touch down desk that is used as a central focus for a variety of uses and seamlessly connects the ground and lower ground floors.

For the Import Building at Republic we have created 2 levels of gallery and co-working space that is open at arrival and connected via a sculptural staircase which surrounds an open linear meeting desk and a private hushed library.

Event space lecture seating although becoming hackneyed does create an interesting multi level seating area that can be used throughout the day and a great focus.

As these Welcome spaces develop, I can imagine hugely enriched street scape with commercial offices vying with one another as indeed the High Street used to.

Studio RHE Reception at Huckltree West, London

Studio RHE Reception at Huckltree West, London