Client: Hugh James Legal / All Photos © Matt Cant.
The headquarters of Cardiff-based Hugh James, a top 100 UK law firm, is an impressive corporate space within a newly developed gateway to the city. Occupying 100,000 sq ft of Two Central Square, a 148,000 sq ft office building designed by Foster + Partners, Hugh James’s move was the biggest pre-let office deal in Wales.
As well as a dedicated client floor with 12 meeting rooms, a 120-capacity function room and outside terrace, the office floors have been designed for open-plan working, but with designated quiet areas. And each of the six floors that the firm occupies features an eye-catching ceiling that was manufactured by Hunter Douglas Architectural. The specification was for 800m2 of engineered solid wood (ESW) grill ceiling, to be installed in areas across all six floors of the law firm’s offices, which houses 700 staff.
The slats are real spruce veneer with whitewash lacquer, each of which is 80mm deep and 20mm wide. They were manufactured with a 150mm gap and installed on a fully demountable system. The panels are connected with a metal dowel, which is itself connected to the carrier for guaranteed rigidity. Metal clips ensure that each panel can be installed quickly and removed easily if services have to be accessed.
David Harris, General Manager of Hunter Douglas Architectural, said using solid wood panels means the ceilings are 100% CO2 neutral, recyclable, and environmentally friendly. Modern production practices also mean up to 1000m2 of veneer can be produced from just 1m3 of wood, making it a sustainable option for designers. And because all the firm’s ceilings are made to measure, little or no cutting is required on site, which reduces significantly installation time and cost. All of these factors played a role towards the building achieving a BREEAM excellent rating.