Designing the ecosystem for a unicorn: RocketSpace’s newest tech campus

London – For its first workspace outside of San Francisco, tech-startup accelerator RocketSpace engaged LOM Architecture and Design to build up the new north-London campus within the former Royal Bank of Scotland’s cash-handling facility and underground vault. The building, which has been stripped down to its original concrete and brickwork structure, reflects the company’s utilitarian approach to collaboration in a growth-focused workplace.

Over 1,200 tonnes of material were removed to make space for up to 1,500 people amid the clean lines, industrial material palette and bright colour accents of the interior. It seems that in the hopes of cultivating a unicorn – a tech startup that reaches a value of over one billion – designers must create a space free from any off-brand spatial distractions. In removing all of the unnecessary trimmings, LOM exposes the former bank building’s blast-proof reinforced concrete frame. Its loading bays have been converted into a double-level events venue, mezzanine, auditorium and café. The large vault with its maximum-security door has been repurposed into a games room.

All this in service of encouraging spontaneous interaction and collaboration. RocketSpace needed to be considerate of the tech industry’s vast world of AI, chip technologies, 3D printing and numerous other islands of interest through its spatial design. To spark connection between the many disciplines, LOM eliminates visual distractions within common areas. Meeting areas are signposted with vignettes of small tables surrounded by two or three chairs with sculptural pendant lighting. The furniture in these spaces are explicitly anti-office, in contrast to the more conventional ergonomic rolling chairs and large plywood desks in the areas dedicated to desk work. Could this functional division signal a shift in approach from spatial to ecosystem design in workspaces?

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