The Royal Mail sorting office, the building formerly located on the site of The Post Building, was denoted by its voluminous internal spaces and ceilings that stretched up to six metres high. A series of conveyors belts and mechanical shoots pumped away carrying sacks of post around the vast building from its opening in the late 1960s.
This immense industrial space has provided a rare opportunity for the architects in charge of its renovation. Retaining the six-metre high spaces (2.6 metres is the usual standard in an office environment) allowed them to introduce a new architectural device: flexible ‘deck’ spaces.
The decks ‘float’ above the main office space on the first and second levels, Providing flexible, multifunctional spaces both above and below the decks. Conceived as part of the core master plan for the whole building, there will be a diverse mix of workplaces to choose from: workers will be able to take meetings or have discussions in the more collaborative areas or concentrate in the quiet spots designed for focused and detail-orientated work.
The decks mirror the trend for flexible workplaces without hindering the flow of the central floor plan. They are column free too. “We made sure the decks hung from the ceiling rather than propping them up from the ground,” says Matthew Murphy, senior architect at AHMM architecture practice. “We have a series of hangers: they are like the conveyor belts in the old sorting office but they are moving office workers around instead of post.”
Workers today seek non-traditional office space. These decks help create what AHMM calls ‘places designed for social interaction and chance meetings’ that are essential in this tech-enhanced world.