Gensler has designed a safe space for First Love Foundation, a support, advice, and advocacy charity, to continue their mission of tackling poverty in Tower Hamlets. The main design driver was to reflect the client’s goal of offering comfort and warmth to those in need.
The ground floor client advice centre is a new offering for them, having previously been operating as Tower Hamlets Foodbank serving the needs of those in most need in the Tower Hamlets community. This new ‘front of house’ space needed to feel welcoming for visitors, offer privacy for confidential conversations, and guarantee clear, unobstructed sightlines throughout all areas for safety.
A reception area welcomes visitors, and workstations with an additional touchdown desk provides space for employees and volunteers to carry out their support and fundraising work. On the ninth floor, there are additional workstations, a shared desk area, an executive suite, and a wraparound terrace. As something that was missing for them previously, it was important to also include breakout spaces for private phone calls, meetings, and casual collaboration to connect team members.
Playing on the idea of a bird’s nest, First Love Foundation’s office floors have been designed as a nurturing place to care for people. A homely, personal, and intimate feel has been achieved using a calming and muted colour palette, and a mix of pre-loved, donated furniture – including sofas, tables, chairs, mirrors, rugs, bookshelves, greenery, and lighting options. There is a consistent look and feel throughout both floors that fits the charity’s aesthetic, despite the eclectic nature of donated items.
The whole industry came together on this project to give generously and creatively, from furniture suppliers to contractors, volunteering their time, services, and products. It was a collaborative effort that successfully created a new workplace ‘home’ for First Love Foundation that is functional, flexible, accessible, and welcoming. Almost everything can be moved with them into future spaces as they continue to grow; even wall graphics will be presented within picture frames, to both be transportable and evoke the sense of homeliness.
This project is especially close to Gensler London’s heart, with their office being situated in Tower Hamlets. The passion and dedication put into this project can be felt by occupants and visitors alike, making them feel safer, happier, and part of a supportive community.