Education First (EF) is a major international company offering study abroad, language learning, cultural exchange and academic degree programmes around the world. Its headquarters building in London is the centre of their international activity and houses a large and diverse group working in all sectors. EF’s progressive culture provides good collective places and facilities for sociability and eating during the working day, which often extends into the evening because of the different time zones in which the company works.
EF’s headquarters occupy the ground and first floor plinth of a1960’s modernist development of residential towers. It has an interesting history of use, originally as a car showroom and later as a data centre. EF’s in-house design team had made interventions in the building in the recent past and gave us a foundational brief for further changes that reflected the company’s developing patterns of work and sociability.
In the scheme we realised, visitors arrive in the centre of the ground floor where they see the reception desk and a new wider and more dignified stair up to the first floor. To the right a view through a glass screen shows the new cafe bar, the place for office time recreation, lunching and afterwork sociability and its rear part, which is divided by a glass screen and seating bank so that it can also be used for meetings and briefings. To the left hand side of the entrance working spaces of EF can be seen through a glass screen. Together with the cafe bar, they are visible through the ground floor windows, giving visitors a sense of the culture of EF as they arrive.
On the first floor the offices were reorganised to place working spaces close to the window, the ventilation ductwork and lighting modified to serve the working area more effectively and a long corridor opened up to connect the back and front of the building. A vehicle ramp from when the building was a car showroom has been made into a characterful meeting room with windows to the surrounding offices. The effect of our scheme is to create different characters in each part of the workspace and pleasure in the places where people come together, formally and informally.
Houthaven, is a redevelopment area in the former timber harbour in Amsterdam West. It has great scenic character, with views over wide areas of water back towards Amsterdam Central station, which is 10 minutes away by bicycle. Amsterdam City Council’s masterplan is very ambitious: A main road running at the edge of the site has been placed in a tunnel so that Houthaven can connect directly into the rest of the city. New buildings for the creative industries have been constructed and a system of new canals is being provided along which a mix of housing for collective groups and developers has been planned. Kopblock is the head of the first array of housing, and consists of three apartment buildings by architects Geurst & Schulze of the Hague, Tony Fretton Architects London and the Amsterdam practice Van Dongen-Koschuch. Amsterdam City’s master plan required blocks of apartments 9 floors high along the north and intermittent terraces of 4 storeys high on the south, arranged around a parking podium. Our blocks comprise 30 no apartments and houses ranging in area from 56 m2 to 329m2. Amsterdam City’s Pictorial Quality Plan required brick facades, and we have used three different types, to give different emphases to the facades, each having a matching stone plinth.
A newly completed residential and retail complex by Tony Fretton Architects in Gent, Belgium. It presents generous landscape courts and elegant facades to the streets and provides 201 apartments, of which 52 are for assisted living, along with 1,300 m2 of retail space and a site wide underground parking garage.
Facades of an architecturally significant 1960s industrial building were incorporated into the scheme and a series of mansion blocks added in matching materials.
Apartments are generously spaced around four connecting courtyards that provide quiet, secure communal spaces for apartment dwellers, older residents and children in addition to the individual outdoor space of their apartments.
We hope you are enjoying our new website. It has been reconfigured with larger pictures and explanatory text. Project Pages with detailed information are available to download. There is also a page which maps the Geographic Spread of the Practice.