Orms Designs Urban Oasis in London's Spitalfields for Fora

Orms Designs Urban Oasis in London's Spitalfields for Fora

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 amphitheater 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.

Fora worked with Orms to conceive the workspace to be 'warm and inviting from first sight', undertaking several measures to ensure hospitable and productive working spaces that 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 into house Fora's events, thought leadership programs 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 amphitheater, seamlessly connecting the building's workspaces and community. The Folgate Street space boasts one of Fora's largest terraced area, adorned with foliage and customized 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 program, 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 customized script telling of the street's changing history over the decades, designed by Orms' in-house artists.

In keeping with the materiality, upon entering the building a striking copper, Richard Serra-inspired architectural centerpiece desk-come-bar leads guests in, inviting them into Fora's social spaces. Auditorium seating with customized 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.

"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 deliver exceptional quality," commented Richard Keating, director, Orms. "We've worked hard together to configure the best space for guests and Residents, and had real fun in the process."

Photography: Jack Hobhouse