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Background.

Darwin Gray, a well-established Cardiff based commercial law firm, offers a wealth of expertise and experience to clients in the public, private and third-sectors.  The company recently acquired a new period building, nestled in a prestigious corner of the Welsh Capital.  With a view to ensuring modern working practices could meld with the beauty and gravitas of the historic building, Darwin Gray approached Powell – for their industry expertise and past experience working on similar projects.

Ground floor reception area.

Step 1: Design and Consultation.

A full complement of Powell staff were invited to conduct a site audit of the new premises, which was split over three levels.  The company’s hope of developing a modern working environment was in stark contrast to the existing floorplans, so conversations quickly turned to significant changes to the site.

“Most beautiful buildings on Cathedral Road have been transformed from homes to offices over the years.  The home-to-office transformation is usually a complicated one – and ensuring we take clients with us on the journey from A to B is tricky, so we use CAD technology, to produce 3D renders that can get the proposal across to the client. Without these renders, floorplans, axos and walkthroughs, it can be difficult for clients to understand the concept.  When changing the purpose of a building, it’s really advisable to consult a design and fit-out agency, because it can be riddled with pitfalls for those who haven’t completed projects like this before.” – Chelsea Williams, Darwin Gray Project Designer

Render concepts below.

Step 2: Construction Phase, what we did, and the challenges faced – in and out.

The Powell team started by stripping out and removing antiquated and superfluous materials from the property.  Examples include partition walls, outdated radiators and underperforming doors.  This brought the building back to a true ‘blank canvas’.  Due to the size of the transformation from original setting to the desired floorplan, this process alone took a number of weeks – made ever more complicated by the comparatively large number of staff needed inside a tight space.  Today, the office environment on the first-floor now boasts a modern, open floor plan with heaps of natural light.  Equipped with new electrical-points, suspended ceilings were added following the removal of an existing wall, to ensure a continuation of the space, and making the best possible use of the area.  This functional workstation not only accommodates 15 people comfortably but facilitates collaborative working.

As is often the case for Powell, this proposal was developed with both ergonomics and the environment in mind.  A number of high-quality pieces from our trusted suppliers were specified and tested by the client in Powell’s Cardiff Showroom – designed to increase employee productivity and reduce discomfort or injury.  When it comes to being environmentally responsible, Powell suggested the repurposing of some existing, quality furniture, such as an existing boardroom table, meeting room chairs and storage equipment.   Chelsea Williams explains:

“In everything we do, we’re environmentally conscious as a company.  Where a client shares the same values as us when it comes to the climate emergency, (as Darwin Gray did), we propose ways of being as responsible as possible.  In this instance, we were able to repurpose a number of existing items, reducing impact on the environment to almost zero.

All our suppliers are vetted for environmental responsibility, and our environmental ISO accreditations mean that we’re committed to doing our absolute best to ensure that all our refits are as green as possible.”

The ground floor received some much-needed TLC, with the addition of two, largescale meeting rooms, a newly installed breakout space, modern kitchen facilities, new toilets, and reception area added.  Heaps of natural light to flow through beautiful bay windows, filling the meeting rooms, and filter beyond the logo etched glass partition.

An original staircase leading to the second level, brings you to a new, open-plan office space which will accommodate 21 members of Darwin Gray staff.  Installing suspended linear lights creates a clever light balance which travels through the office, and brand consistency can be felt across the whole building, with Darwin Gray’s brand colours, simple lines and white walls with bold, feature aspects dotted throughout.

Step 3: The transformation and client satisfaction.

Darwin Gray entered 2022 with a fully refurbished office space.  As the rest of the country are phasing back into the ‘new normal’, the transition for Darwin Gray has been a much more exciting one – with a fantastic new space, in a beautiful building in a wonderful corner of the city.  Darwin Gray’s experience of working with Powell was such a positive one, additional work has been booked in already – so watch this space!

Completed fit out images below.

Fflur Jones, Managing Partner at Darwin Gray said:

“Working with Powell has been a pleasure.  The team recognised what we wanted at an early stage, and our own thoughts as far as the design was concerned were taken seriously throughout the project.  That was important to us, because we wanted our staff to have the office that they wanted, as well as the one they needed. 

Powell’s experience and expertise, as well as their creative flair has been absolutely critical to the success of this project.  The fact that they were able to work quickly and seamlessly in order to avoid business disruption was a huge advantage to us as a business – and we’re already working on another project with the team because of the relationship we’ve developed.

I would recommend Powell to anyone.”

AerMach
design | refurbishment | fitout
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