The council building of Forth was in need of refurbishement for quite some years. But what do you do at times when council bounderies change all the time, the available budget is minimal and the citizens in crisis watch governments expenditure with scrutiny? You renovates with the hand on the wallet and with common sense. Architect Nick Rennick calls it ‘apparent refresh’. Amos Beech took care of the interior design and office fit out.
The building dating from 1980 was not only in need of a physical refurbishement. Also the way visitors were received didn’t meet today’s needs. That is different now: the recently opened council building now bosts a new Customer Contact Center (CCC). A thorough renovation of the interior and optimisation of architectural design resulted in a public Centre with an open and fresh look. The total cost of the renovation came to £ 750.000. “And all the financial resources were made available from costsavings, which we realised thruogh delayed maintenance. So there was no need to free up extra money.
When renovation could no longer be postponed, it was decided to refurbish the office keeping in mind a possible sale of the building within a short time. Architect Nick Rennick: “A lot of thinking went in it. Not only because of the money side of things, but also because you have an example as a public authority. You refurbish a building, but would like it to retain its functionality also when the time comes that you vacate the building so it doesn’t stand empty. All logos and emblems for example are easy to remove. Logos that used to be engraved in the banks of the Councillors were replace by stickers on tyhe wall. In our view, It has to do with sustainability. We have renovated in such a way, that a subsequent user can simply move in.”
The Customer Contact Center (CCC) now forms the heart of the renovated town hall. “A key characteristic for the CCC was, that it had to be accessible for visitors, “said the architect. “We have four open spaces, protected by acoustic screens. In addition to that, there are two consulting rooms for more privacy-sensitive calls. The whole has now a friendlier look, the counter is replaced by a table an visually this table runs through all areas.”
An important point of attention was the ceiling. In the old situation that ceiling consisted of brown profiled wood. The original plan was for to paint this, but that turned out to be practically impossible. So it was decided to remove the profiled timber ceiling and replace it with a light-colored ceiling of Ecophon Focus Lp, a system with ceiling plates, ranging in widths of 15, 30 and 60 centimeters. Architect Rennick was especially charmed by this ceiling because of the lines. Also the council is happy with this solution. “The new ceilings are all bright, spacious and linear. That makes the atmosphere of the refurbished rooms very quiet and pleasant. Both employees and visitors respond very enthousiastically, “.
Interior design and fit out company took care of everything from design to detailed execution. During the construction process it turned out that the openness had a very positive effect on the public and most of the office users, so we have left a wall out. Now, the public can also use this space and get a cup of tea or coffee. That makes the reception a whole lot friendlier. So you can see that it is also not always good to have avery detail in the plan. It’s like an elephant path: sometimes you also need to let things happen.