in the heart of bustling Spitalfields, London
Shared workspace provider Fora has completed its largest project to date at 35-41 Folgate Street, Spitalfields. Designed in collaboration with architects Orms, the former site of two commercial buildings has been transformed to accommodate 30,000 sq ft of purpose-built co-working and flexible workspace over four floors.
The newly configured space is ideally located between the City of London and Shoreditch’s creative hub. It features a large amphitheatre in a generous, light-filled atrium leading to an outdoor courtyard, 575 desks, barista coffee, a gym and roof terrace overlooking London’s skyline and the East End.
Silk-trade inspired architectural motifs adorn the collaborative workspace – a visual reference to the former 18th Century industrial weaving and silk trade historically found at Spitalfields Market, which in its contemporary form remains a popular tourist destination today.
Fora worked with Orms to conceive the workspace to be ‘warm and inviting from first sight’, undertaking a number of measures to ensure hospitable and productive working spaces which reflect Fora’s philosophy. The two office buildings, built in 1964, have been linked together for the first time with the light filled atrium acting as the central gathering point in the Fora space.
Covering the atrium with a clear ETFE polymer roof ensures year-round protection from the elements, whilst still allowing natural light to flood in to house Fora’s events, thought leadership programmes and opportunities for collaboration among Residents. Surrounding glass partitions help diminish noise levels on the classic Victorian-terraced residential streets which enclose the building. Large floor-to-ceiling street-front windows allow lines of vision from the street, through the cafe to the amphitheatre, seamlessly connecting the building’s workspaces and community. The Folgate Street space boasts one of Fora’s largest terraced area, adorned with foliage and customised outdoor furniture, overlooking the surrounding business and creative districts.
Founded by The Big Chill festival co-founder Katrina Larkin and hospitality-entrepreneur Enrico Sanna, Fora has reimagined the office experience by combining the best in hospitality service, a curated events programme, top quality design and the latest technology in each of its venues. In true Fora style, the Folgate Street space complements the surrounding streetscape and reflects the unique character of the area.
Maintaining the thread of Spitalfields’ long history in the fabrics trade throughout the furnishings and finishing of the building was key to the designers. Four large gates at the street entrance feature a customised script telling of the street’s changing history over the decades, designed by Orms’ own in-house artists.
In keeping with the materiality, upon entering the building a striking copper, Richard Serra-inspired architectural centrepiece desk-come-bar leads guests in, inviting them into Fora’s social spaces. Auditorium seating with customised cushions by local artist Fanny Shorter, wall finishes and artwork, by House of Fairytales, throughout the spaces reference the weaving industry and rich Spitalfields history.
Katrina Larkin, Co-Founder of Fora, commented:
“Our Spitalfields location perfectly reflects Fora’s ethos of providing Residents with expertly designed and innovative yet functional workspaces that offer opportunities for social interaction and collaboration. Folgate Street enjoys an excellent, well-connected location on the fringe of the City and London’s creative district allowing opportunities for all businesses and creative occupiers.”
Richard Keating, director, Orms, said:
“The biggest joy of Fora Folgate Street is that we’ve been able to design the concept at all levels of the building – from its structural form to the telling of the history through the dressing and finishes, everything is bespoke to reflect Fora’s high quality offering and to delivery exceptional quality. We’ve worked hard together to configure the best space for guests and Residents, and had real fun in the process.”
To date, Fora has curated eight other flexible workspaces in locations including Clerkenwell, Borough, Reading, Fitzrovia and Soho and is continuously seeking new development opportunities throughout London.