Spotlight on: Southmere
With our largest project for Peabody now underway, we wanted to take you on the journey as the suite comes to life.
We’ll be regularly updating this blog with project updates live from site, but first up, Interior Designer Anna takes you through what’s to come.
In the heart of Thamesmead lives Peabody’s grand redevelopment project – Thamesmead. As well as 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom homes, Peabody is also bringing a new public square, a civic building including a library, fitness studio and a café with other commercial and community spaces to follow – developing an already vibrant community.
The scope and scale of the Thamesmead development called for a bespoke, flexible space that could cater for the wider development, adapt through development phases, host events, serve the community and house the Peabody sales team, but most importantly, bring the vision and story of Thamesmead alive.
With our history in building and designing spaces for similar size development projects, for example, Barking Riverside, we were confident we understood how the multi-functional space Peabody desired should work.
"we used the development strapline to create the “wonder centre” an alternative to the formal “marketing suite”"
Southmere is the first phase of the Thamesmead development. Inspired by the vibrant branding, we used the development strapline to create the “wonder centre” an alternative to the formal “marketing suite”.
Working with our colleagues at GROW, we came up with the original modular structure which was inspired by a lightbox and therefore stood as a beacon amongst the development, particularly in the evening when the building would appear to glow.
The nature of the scale of this development meant the customer journey and purpose of each zone was crucial.
Peabody were keen to celebrate the strong sense of community in Thamesmead, so greeting the visitors at the entrance is the Thamesmead discovery zone. This is a flexible space which can grow and evolve with the community at Thamesmead and showcase events, updates and the people of Thamesmead.
The further three zones include the Southmere discovery area, dedicated to the current live phase, the sales area, home to the sales team as well as the customer lounge and self-discover area, a comfortable breakout space.
"a flexible space which can grow and evolve with the community"
As the design evolved through conversations with Peabody, much of the original scheme remained. Although we’ve worked with GROW to adapt the modular build design, the beacon still exists as a key element of the building exterior.
The look of the flexible space inside is inspired by the nature and greenery that makes up Southmere, particularly the proximity to the water. This translates into the design through a subtle palette with more muted and paired back colours used inside. Not only does this tie into the natural vibe we were aiming for, it also makes the vibrant graphics stand out more in the space.
The theme of nature is particularly present in the Thamesmead section of the space. A large feature wall made up of preserved foliage and moss hosts the community Thamesmead collection which includes elements from the area’s archive, community events and celebrates Thamesmead’s past, present and future.
All the foliage and moss are sustainably sourced and we wanted to use plant species native to the UK, so they mirror the external environment around the wonder centre. The large skylights, designed by GROW, ensure that lots of natural light floods into the space, complemented by the other large windows around the suite.
"We can’t wait to see the full-scale map once it’s installed"
It was important that the Southmere section had its own identity to differentiate it from the wider Thamesmead areas. Therefore, through a bespoke divider, you’ll find the Southmere zone of the centre which is home to the phase 3D model and a hand-crafted map of the area designed by creative agency HTA Design. We can’t wait to see the full-scale map once it’s installed.
This section is not only zoned by the wooden divider but also has contrasting flooring to the Thamesmead entrance and is lit by the huge bi-fold doors opening out onto the plaza outside. We wanted to have lots of natural light throughout to bring the outside in, as well as utilising an abundance of living planting, designed with elegant bases that also contain a self-watering feature.
When creating the customer breakout lounge area, we worked collaboratively with the interior design team at Suna who were fitting out the concierge. The idea was to create consistency across the two schemes to provide a seamless journey for the customers.
By brainstorming colours, fabrics and textures, we combined our ideas to come up with a consistent look and feel for the furniture and finishes. We selected a few key finishes that we wanted to be aligned on from the timber effect and concrete flooring to a recycled plastic bar top, once again tying in with the sustainability aspect we included elsewhere in the space.
The final zone is for the sales team. In their brief, Peabody were keen for the sales space to remain informal, so we kept the space as simple as possible. An example of the lengths we went to to make the sales space as clean as possible was to design the desks so that no wires could be seen. Despite having an opening at the bottom, all the cables will travel up the leg of the desk for a sleek finish.
The meeting room is the most formal aspect of the entire space but still includes fun nods to the branding and wider concept, including vibrant seating and touches of greenery.
Finally, in a Focus Experiential first, we created a CGI for the DDA WC to show our dedication to the scheme and consistent branding. The black fixings, greenery and colour palette all tied in with the wonder centre as a whole, proving we really had considered everything to ensure the Thamesmead and Southmere branding flowed throughout the space.
"a Focus Experiential first"