Transformation of FinTech office in Level 39, Canary Wharf

In August we had two weeks to transform Deal Globe’s office space in Level 39, the prestigious technology accelerator in Canary Wharf. 

is a cross-border M&A specialist, with offices in China and London: it deals with high net worth individuals seeking to invest in Europe and around the world.  It therefore wanted to convey through the office space a sense of gravitas and experience in the M&A sector as well as cultural understanding of both China and Europe as a cross-border specialist. 

We responded by creating a design based around colours and materials that suggested luxury, wealth and experience: American walnut, brushed aluminium and teal.  These colours were chosen to offset the central feature of the room, which were photographs by one of the most reputed photographers of contemporary China: Edward KB.  The photographs were chosen to give life to the space, through their vivid colours, evocative scenery and engaging compositions, bringing a sense of contemporary China in all its guises into the office.  The design was drawn together by some carefully chosen accent cushions for the sofa and beautiful planting by our partners Planetaria Group.

The project was completed in just two weeks – from brief to install and has transformed the office space, making it a much better environment for working in and also for taking clients into.  The new teal colour chosen for the walls has also been adopted by Deal Globe to use throughout their external marketing material such as on their website and business cards. 

 

Yoke London: Finalists at the BIFM awards

On Monday 10th Yoke London attended the British Institute of Facilities Management awards at the Grosvenor Hotel.  We were a finalist for the “Brand Impact” award for our work with London Gateway.  The award acknowledged the contribution that the Facilities team at London Gateway made towards improving the brand awareness within the London Gateway team through our “internal branding” project. 

 

The event was held in the glittering ballroom of the Grosvenor Hotel on Park Lane and was attended by all the leading Facilities Management companies and as well as internal Facilities Management teams and their suppliers.  After the three-course dinner we were entertained by Alexander Armstrong, who used his acerbic wit to deliver a great introduction and present the awards.  Although we didn’t win, it was great to be a finalist: to celebrate with London Gateway all the work we accomplished together and to be recognised by the British Institute of Facilities Management for the significance of our work within the industry. 

BIFM-Yoke-London

Hyper Tension Sails for an Atrium with Impact

The challenge

The reception desk in London Gateway’s atrium building is situated on the North side of the building, facing a four-storey glass atrium wall, which looks out onto the Thames Estuary.  This meant that throughout the day the two receptionists had direct sunlight, glaring into their eyes, making it not only uncomfortable to work in, but causing severe health problems.  When looking into solutions we found that it would be very costly to move the reception desk to the South side of the atrium, so we decided that the best solution would be to create a kind of indoor awning to shade the receptionists’ eyes.  

London Gateway had also asked us to look at this space in particular to create an interesting and impactful branded feature that would welcome and impress external visitors to the site.  We therefore combined these two requirements, coming up with a solution which created a visual impact, delivered on branding and protected the receptionists from the sun.

Production of the Hyper-Tension Sails

After conducting initial research, we found that the best way to create shading within the four-storey atrium space would be to use hyper-tension Sails.  Yoke contracted Architen Landrell to survey the site and come up with a suitable design that would provide as much shade as possible, whilst still looking visually interesting and light.  Yoke briefed them to create a design which incorporated the idea of sails - to reflect the seafaring nature of DP World London Gateway’s business.  After several proposals, we settled on a design which used four sails, creating multiple layers of visual interest whilst also providing comprehensive shade.  

These four sails were manufactured by Architen Landrell in their Chepstow base, however the fabric for the sails was cut and sent to Four Graphics, large format printers, who digitally printed the DP World knot onto the fabric, so that the sails would be branded as DP world.  The knot motif is used throughout the London Gateway building: it’s bright colours help lead the eye up the sails and into the space, creating a powerful and imposing first impression of London Gateway to external visitors.

Creating a Visual Identity for London Gateway

The Challenge 

The five main office and amenities buildings at London Gateway are spread over a three-mile site from one corner to the other.  Furthermore, the architectural style used for each office varies greatly - from glass office building, to warehouse to border examinations room.  To create a visual identity that linked all five buildings was key to creating a sense of cohesion throughout the site: a motif that would underpin the different colours, identities and graphics that were used in the different buildings and the different work that was carried out in each them.  As the DP World global brand guidelines had no visual motif or graphic style that we could use, we decided to create our own visual identity to use throughout the project.

Drawing on the Architecture

One key design feature that was used throughout the admin building (which is the first port of call for external visitors) is a frosted glass manifestation pattern, used to create shading in the external glass panels.  We got hold of the original template for this manifestation design from the architects Chetwoods and used this as a basis for our visual identity, breaking it down into a repeating pattern, with tonal variations.  

We chose this pattern as it makes a formal connection between the glass admin building and the operational buildings further within the site.  Furthermore, the shifting rectangular boxes in the pattern create a visual link with the containers on the quayside and in the yard, which are shifted about like a Tetris puzzle all day long by the cranes.  We therefore chose to call this motif the “shifting box” motif and used it throughout the project.

Applications of the Shifting Box motif

We used the motif throughout the site, in a variety of scales and sizes.  We used a large scale of the motif for the decals in the stairwells around the three main buildings: the stairwells are high footfall areas, with a high number of external visitors so we wanted to create a bold, imposing impact as you first enter the buildings.  

We used the motif on a slightly smaller scale within individual meeting rooms along with key words from DP World brand messaging and photos from the port in operations.  We used it along corridors, such as along the 25 metre corridor in the border control post: here we used a variety of colours to create interest along the corridor.

The motif worked well as a holder or frame for the individual visual identities of the buildings.  For example, in the Terminal building, it is used as a holder for the technical drawings used throughout the building, whilst in the Amenities and Admin buildings it holds duotone photographs of the port in operations.  

The shifting Box motif is also used throughout the site in smaller applications, such as on all the communications boards as well as on the wayfinding decals used on the cupboards and on external marketing collateral such as pop-ups.

The Result

The Result is a series of office and amenities buildings, across a three mile site, that feel cohesive for the first time; with a clear and unifying identity binding them, but also allowing them to have their own individual identities.

 

Wayfinding through Colour

An Unavigable workspace

The architecture of the office buildings at London Gateway varies dramatically: at one side of the site is a beautifully designed glass, atrium style building.  At the other end of the terminal are two buildings, with warren-like office spaces squished between large warehouses either side.  The complex of rooms within the office space are disjointed, with different staircases stopping on certain floors, double-sided corridors and a general lack of any identifying features for each floor.  Whilst a comprehensive wayfinding system was in the works, Yoke decided to use the graphics themselves to help with wayfinding within the office spaces. 

Using Colour to Navigate

Yoke did this by choosing a key colour for each floor of each building, inspired by the work of HKR architects at the Ministry of Defence HQ.  All the large graphics and wallpapers, designed for each area would use the key colour of the floor as their primary or secondary colour.  This allowed us to use similar themes throughout the floors, but to vary them with the colour.  It also allowed us to design contrasting graphics, but since the same key colours were used throughout, they linked up with the rest of the floor in a cohesive manner.  

The key colours chosen were all taken from DP World’s primary and secondary colour palette, however they were chosen specifically for the floors that required them.  For example, in the ground floors the primary green was used as this is the first impression that visitors and employees have of the buildings and therefore needs to be the primary brand colour.  Further into the buildings, up the floors, we used the secondary palette.  On the top floor of the Terminal building we used the lightest blue from the palette as the Head of Operations wanted to create a feeling of lightness and creativity within the space.

Applying the Colours

The colours were applied as digitally printed vinyl to key areas such as columns along the office space, feature walls within the offices and in the stairwells as decals.  The key colours were also used for all the dry wipe boards and notice boards, each of which were individually printed and produced so that the boards used on each floor were in that floor’s key colour.  Tying all these separate elements into the colour scheme has given each floor an identity.  Even without large wayfinding text signage, one knows which floor you are on from the colour system.  

In the Admin building, where it is predominantly glass walls and grey office furniture we produced individual vinyl decals for each cupboard at the end of each bank of desks.  We printed each decal with a tonal variant of the floors’ key colour so that throughout the floor there was variation, but still an identifiable colour.  Furthermore, we printed the name of each department on the cupboard decals so that they could be used as wayfinding within the office.  This was a cost effective solution for an office with little space to have hanging or wall mounted wayfinding signage.  However it has given each desk space a feeling of its own identity and created a sense of permanence within the office space. 

The Result

The result is not only office spaces which are easier to navigate, but also ones which have their own identity. Tonal variations of the same palette have been used across the three main buildings at London Gateway, so that as well as giving individual identities to each floor, there is also a common colour palette and identity that flows throughout the buildings across the whole three-mile long site.

Using Materials to Create Meaning in the Workspace

Reflecting the past, the present and the future

At Yoke we don’t rely on just the image to create an impactful identity, we also look to the material that we print on to create meaning in the workspace.  At London Gateway we wanted to create a sense of their place at the forefront of a long history of docking in the Thames Estuary.  We therefore choose materials that reflected both their connection to the past and their Thames Estuary location and secondly that reflected their positioning as a port of the future, using new and innovative technology for the century to come: we therefore used birch wood to reflect the past and brushed aluminium to reflect the future.  

 The birch wood was used for prints inside the workspaces in the Terminal building.  The workspaces suffered from a lack of natural light, dark carpet and grey furniture, furthermore, any views of outside were of grey, mechanical quayside equipment.  We therefore chose to use birch plywood through the building to introduce a natural element to the workspace, working towards the principles of biophilic design, which suggests that the presence of natural materials in the workspace improve mental wellbeing.  

Biophilic Design Principles 

The images printed onto the birch plywood were bold, geometric images taken of the port in operations by Simon Rich, an HDR photographer.  The bold geometry of the containers in the yard, set against the open blue sky and the imposing metal structures of the equipment were cropped into abstract compositions and printed directly onto the birch plywood.  The gentle organic flow of the wood grain showing through beneath the print and left exposed to border the print contrasted with the abstract geometries of the images.  

The grain of the wood also lends a sense of place, permanence and history to the images.  London Gateway is a bold new port, proud to be at the forefront of technology, however it is built with a sense of history: the idea that it is the latest port in a long line of ports that have flourished on the River Thames throughout the last Millennium.  The sharp architecture of the equipment and containers in the photos is underwritten by the grains of time and history.  

Bringing the outside into the workspace

In the spaces with more natural light and more birch wood in the architecture we chose to print on brushed aluminium.  The metallic background contrasts with the space and brings a sense of the cutting edge technology on the quayside into the office spaces and meeting rooms.  The aluminium was printed with a layer of white and then the four-colour print of the HDR image, making the colours pop against the brushed aluminium.  

In the corridor that leads from the equipment yard to the office spaces we produced three large prints, each just under two metres high.  The sheer scale, combined with the abstract images brings a sense of monumentalism and grandeur to the corridor, linking the quayside with the interior through scale, material and image.  

Improving operational performance through design

The Brief

Yoke was briefed by the Head of Operations at London Gateway to transform the corridor to the male changing rooms into a football tunnel: as each of the 250 terminal operators walked into work at 5.30 in the morning, the would walk through the corridor to the changing rooms and onto the quayside, feeling as if they were walking through the tunnel at West Ham and onto the pitch, ready to play for their favourite team.  

Motivating the team

To motivate the terminal operators to perform to the best of their ability is of business critical importance at London Gateway.  Each container is moved on or off the marred ships by a series of cranes, each operated by one person.  The quicker the containers are moved on or off the ship, the shorted the ship has to be moored and the less London Gateway's clients have to pay.  To ensure that each terminal operator is motivated, inspired and ready to put in a good performance at the start of each 12-hour shift is therefore critical to London Gateway's business.  This goes some way to explaining the ambitious brief given to Yoke and the investment London Gateway was prepared to put into the space.  

Our response

Yoke responded to the brief by creating a design that monumentalised the terminal operators at London Gateway, making them feel like they really were the star players of the London Gateway team.  To do this we commissioned HDR photographer Simon Rich to take photos of the team mooring a ship into harbour.  we chose this scene as, having spent many days at London Gateway, we felt that the act of six men pulling one rope to moor the ship was a strong visual symbol for effective teamwork.  There was also something slightly nostalgic about the scene: six men pulling on a rope: it offered a counterpoint to the highly automated technology of the rest of the port and made a visual link to the past history of dock working in the Thames.  

The image of the six men pulling the rope also worked on a formal level, leading the eye down the corridor.  We added to the visual effect by introducing large chevrons, which guide the terminal operator down the space, giving it a sense of grandeur and purpose.  The chevrons and columns were designed using the bright green colour that was the key colour used throughout this floor, tying the corridor into the rest of the space.  To balance the bright green of the chevrons and the bright yellow of the hi-vis jackets in the images we used key words from the "oneTEAM" message that we developed for London gateway to fill the background space in soft grey tints.  The softness of the grey in the key words, floating in and out of the background at varying sizes contrasts with the monumental scale of the cut-out photos of the terminal operators.  

The result

The final design was signed off for production and installed by Four Graphics and Sabre Graphics. The impact was made immediately on the terminal operators who walk down the corridor everyday.  Nik Rogocki, one of the quay crane operators at London gateway has said:  "It's great, you walk into work at 6am on a cold winters day, but you feel motivated and ready to put in a good shift for the team." The performance of the terminal operators has also improved since the installation of the wallpaper in the space, with the team working faster, safer and more efficiently.