Address: 1 Midland Road, NW1 1AT London, Great Britain

Sector: Healthcare & Medical

Year: 2020

Architect: Pilbrow and Partners

Office planning: Bene GmbH

Science meets design

The Francis Crick Institute is a biomedical discovery institute dedicated to understanding the fundamental biology underlying health and disease. Its work is helping to understand why disease develops and to translate discoveries into new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, infections, and neurodegenerative diseases.

The Crick was formed in 2015, and in 2016 it moved into it brand-new state-of-the-art building in central London which brings together 1500 staff, including almost 600 technical, IT and engineering support staff, working collaboratively across disciplines, making it the biggest biomedical research facility under a single roof in Europe.

When recently tasked with adapting existing spaces to encourage greater collaboration and knowledge sharing within, and between, departments at the institute, the architects Pilbrow and Partners began by surveying prevailing use behaviors, which was then analysed via a sophisticated software tool to better inform their design process.

Their completed interior presents a new organic layout giving each department direct exposure to the main access route, while quieter areas, further away from the public route, provide more opportunities for focused work. A natural material palette, including an extensive use of timber, was introduced to resonate and contrast with the existing expressed concrete and steel, creating a more comfortable environment.

Bene’s STUDIO Workbench was selected by Pilbrow and Partners to realise these areas, to help encourage open communication and interaction between teams.

The STUDIO Workbench is a real eye-catcher thanks to its expressive “swing” leg, and subtle birch ply wooden edge detail. But such style does not always mean a deficit in substance. The STUDIO Workbench offers ample desk space, thanks to the shared “dock” in the centre of the table, hosting tidy desk solutions including stationery pots, pencil trays and power outlets. For Pilbrow and Partners, the dock also enabled the seamless integration of the Orto floor lamp by Spectral at each end of every bench, as designed in cooperation with Pritchard Themis Lighting Designers. This unique customer requirement now not only provides users with additional overhead lighting, but also perfectly complements the minimalist design of STUDIO’s legs.

Winning design and functionality is not always so obvious. Beneath the STUDIO Workbench the table framework is perfectly arranged to offer complete freedom of movement, despite accommodating a generous cable management tray. And although sleekly elegant in appearance, the table’s angled inset legs also provide excellent stability and high levels of load support, mirroring in function the desk’s overall air of stillness.

STUDIO Side tables as well as complementing TIMBA meeting tables and stools were specified to thematically connect adjacent breakout areas and touchdown zones, as well as to further enhance the overarching calm and natural environment.

Photo: Peter Cook