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A@W Newsletter

Recycled materials in commercial interiors

28 October 2021

Whether it’s a worktop, a wallcovering or elsewhere within a commercial interior, recycling or repurposing materials is a trend that’s set to continue as COP26 in Glasgow approaches and all sectors including architecture and design consider their responsibility to the environment. 


Written by Helen Parton


BDG architecture + design repurposed much of the furniture at its Sea Containers home including adding to its existing USM modular storage


The debate on embodied energy is one the architecture and design community is keen to be part of. Energy used in extracting and processing raw materials, manufacturing of construction materials, transportation and distribution, and assembly all components to the built environment contributes around 40% of the UK's total carbon footprint.


The reconfiguration of its Sea Containers home by BDG architecture + design is one project that shows how the sector can have a a positive impact on the integration of its people, its purpose and the environment. Originally completed in 2017, this award winning workspace located on London’s South Bank demonstrated then how an old building - a 1974 design by American modernist architect Warren Platner to be precise - could be transformed into a modern workplace. In this, the next iteration of the space zero interior building works were required and 98% existing furniture was used including adding significant planting to the space to provide better comfort and stimulation for mental health.


© BDG architecture + design


Barr Gazetas employed a light touch reusing many existing materials to transform Broadwalk House

Across the Thames, Barr Gazetas’ work at Broadwalk House, for developer British Land is an example of a low cost, high impact refurbishment. The 300,000 sq.ft. building on the Broadgate Estate in the City of London's financial district features seven storeys of office accommodation. The architects employed a light touch to the main entrance and  reception, reusing many of the existing high quality materials such as the timber cladding and adding in a distressed metal ceiling raft and new lighting, therefore transforming the space from dated and overly corporate to cool and contemporary. A similar approach was taken to the upper floor common areas and WC's while the cost effective plug and play office suite reused elements of the outgoing tenants fit out and repurposed elements such as the existing ceiling. The overall result contributed to meeting this exacting sustainability targets.


© Philip Vile s



Idean’s communal kitchen including worktops featuring products from Smile Plastics 

Connection and interaction were at the heart of designers Jackdaw’s work at creative studio Idean in east London. An informal communal kitchen, dining room and meeting area is a key part of the interior and as well as bar seating, banquettes and natural wood workbench style tables and benches, it features monochrome patterned worktop  made of recycled plastic.


© Killian O'Sullivan

CDUK launched PaperStone®, a sustainable material which is made from recycled paper with natural resin giving it a textured effect in a range of natural hues and tones. 

These days, recycled materials hold their own in the style stakes as well as doing their bit for climate change. Examples include a surface material made of recycled paper combined with natural resin that can be used across a variety of applications from vertical decorative wall panels to kitchen worksurfaces and washrooms to chairs made from 100% recycled PET or discarded fishing nets.


Altogether architects and designers in the UK can play their part in contributing to the country’s overall commitment to being net zero by 2050.


Recycled materials in commercial interiors
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