Overview of stairs with glass railings on top of each other, armchairs with tables, and people at work.A business lounge, with a woman who is ascending a staircase of wooden steps, each of which are illuminated on the side. Glass railings.Wood finished with non-slip strips and lighting, with black handrails and glass railings, armchairs of varying colours.The handrails between two staircases, which are situated in an opening.With wood finished steps with non-slip strips and lighting on every step.Overview from the hall on two work spaces with glass walls, where people are meeting and discussing. Office chairs and round tables, with a curved white wall as a partition, and a large screen depicting the weather.Table with chairs around it where people are sitting and talking, round lamps and a wooden floor.A kitchen with chefs and tools, with different herbs in jars in front of the window.

A recent collaboration between top 10 global law firm CMS, specialist workplace strategists MCM Architecture and KKS has resulted in an innovative working environment. CMS’ new office, in London’s Cannon Place, is centred around creating exceptional client areas and open plan collaborative work spaces. The ‘business lounge’ style includes everything an employee in a modern office could need including; video conferencing rooms, bookable and non-bookable meeting rooms, and café and breakout spaces to encourage mobility and cross-team collaboration.

Clever use of staircases

Despite being spread out over three large floors the office space has been brought together with the clever use of modern staircases from renowned manufacturer, EeStairs. Rather than being enclosed in a stairwell, MCM Architecture designed the staircases in such a way that they are as much of a feature of the office as the chairs and tables. The staircase is positioned in plain sight and surrounded by a TransParancy® glass balustrade for uninterrupted views of the interior.

In contrast to the furniture, walls and floors which are for the most part finished in modern block colours, ranging from muted greys to striking orange, the staircases have been constructed from steel and finished with timber treads, adding a natural element to the interior. The gentle rise of the straight staircases makes them appear longer and extremely inviting to walk up and down. The combination of straight flights of stairs and plateau areas add to the sense that the stairs wrap around the wall that they are positioned against.

In keeping with the way that CMS has embraced modern technology and working practices, MCM Architecture has designed the staircases to include LED lighting that trace the edges of each flight of stairs. The light appears to flow from the top to the bottom of the staircases and reflects the brief to create a mobile workspace.

During the design stages for the staircases the project team wanted to create an exciting staircase that would provide a stunning feature in the client suite on the first floor. A bronze mirrored wall conceals the structural supports for the staircase has made the space seem larger, building on the role of the staircase as a focal point. The mirrored wall also reflects the curvilinear forms of the technology hub and bar, creating a bright and welcoming space for clients to enjoy.

Overlooked as a necessary element

“Staircases are often overlooked as a necessary element of a building rather than an aspect of interior architecture that can reinforce a company’s ethos or value. We wanted to create something extraordinary that would add to the experience of staff and clients and found the ideal partner in EeStairs,” commented Jon Race, Managing Director of MCM Architecture.

“It is always exciting for us to work with teams looking to take a fresh approach to the creation of an interior,” explains Steve Bray, Senior Creative Advisor, EeStairs UK. With an open plan office design there is the scope to create a staircase that is wonderful to use and just as exciting to look at, which is what has been achieved in the new CMS office.”

Future-proof office design

CMS’ new office has resulted in a wonderful environment for all staff and has challenged the concept of legal practice architecture to create a future-proof office design that bring staff and clients together. The exceptional amenities have brought CMS to the forefront of workplace design.