All change please

The pandemic has turned our railway station buildings into destinations in their own right

When Brunel’s Paddington Station opened in 1854, a new commercial hub was born. Not only did the Great Western Railway create a convenient – somewhat luxurious – connection between London, Maidenhead and Bristol, but Paddington itself was transformed into a bustling centre for business, trade, and socialising. What was once a low-key residential area by Regents Canal saw a newly opened Great Western Hotel, offices, boardrooms and a Royal waiting room constructed on Eastbourne Terrace.

Fast forward to 2020 – what’s changed? The Royal waiting room might not get much use these days, but the offices and boardrooms are now busier than ever. In fact, this is a trend across London stations, with The Office Group making use of original office space to create flexible work space in six of London’s major transport hubs, as well as in Bristol and Leeds stations. And all of them offer a novel seconds-long journey between platform and desk.

This convenience of location plays into a recent culture shift in flexible working. As the COVID-19 pandemic quietened London’s streets, closed its shops and emptied its restaurants earlier this year, many made the decision to flee the city for greener, airier spaces. Some reports suggest that as many as 1.6 million Londoners (some 26 per cent of the city’s working population) have chosen to leave the capital to work remotely at some point in 2020.

But work, and central work spaces, remain a necessity for many – and suddenly, these station locations across London have become destinations in their own right, perfect for those who’ve chosen to leave town this year, but who nevertheless need a forward base in the big smoke.

As with all TOG's spaces, members can access any of our six London station buildings, each with a rich variety of meeting rooms, breakout spaces and lounge areas, which offer teams the flexibility to meet and work together in the right environment, at the right time. Here, we explore TOG’s station workplaces to see how they support this new kind of remote working.

19 Eastbourne Terrace

Paddington

This Grade I listed space is in the original row of offices on Eastbourne terrace that date from the 1800s. Tucked away in a peaceful corner of Platform One, the offices, lounge and communal spaces benefit from spacious high ceilings and the grand original cornicing. This is a perfect spot for quiet tasks, with plenty of open spaces where you can make the most of the communal buzz.

Melcombe Place

Marylebone

TOG’s work space in Marylebone station is unexpectedly opulent, with the original parquet floors throughout, rich velvets and dark wood reflecting its original period design. It’s filled with small spaces that are perfect for focus and concentration, and is also home to a secluded library and relaxing retreat room, complete with swing chair.

50 Liverpool Street

Liverpool Street

This Liverpool Street location stands proudly at the entrance to the station, a grand example of architecture we almost didn’t get to see – it survived bombings in both World Wars, as well as British Rail’s plans to demolish it. Sir John Betjeman was a fan of this building, campaigning to save it – and now its new lease of life as a work space continues with striking mezzanine floors, high ceilings and original arched windows letting in an abundance of natural light.

Belle House

Victoria

With the elegant British Pullman departing from just outside, you’ll find Belle House is full of design-led references to the golden age of rail travel. With a heavy dose of Art Deco glamour inside, balanced with bold patterning and symmetry to bring the space into the 21st century, you’d hardly notice Belle House from the outside – which makes it an ideal place to get your head down.

East Side

Kings Cross St Pancras

Another example of Grade I listed architecture, East Side sits in Kings Cross Station below the  station’s distinctive iron arches. Influenced by the simplicity of railway design, you’ll find repeated carriage-inspired booths for focus and phone calls, light, open lounge space, and charming original fireplaces that lend a unique touch to the meeting rooms.

Scott House

Waterloo

The ultimate contrast to the busy concourse of Britain’s busiest station, walking through the striking doorway of Scott House leads you into a calm, ordered interior inspired by Japanese architecture and design. Natural light flows in from all sides, and the building’s original features have been seamlessly incorporated into a bright, modern work space perfect for collaboration.

You can find out more about TOG’s station locations across London, Bristol and Leeds by emailing the Spaces team at [email protected]

Hannah Forrester is TOG’s creative copywriter