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NM Rothschild and Sons Bank Headquarters, London

Client: Robert Thompson's Craftsmen Ltd

The headquarters building is a 15-storey office block, recently constructed for NM Rothschild and Sons. We were appointed by Robert Thompson’s Craftsmen Ltd, Kilburn to work in conjunction with them on the detail design of the bespoke Reading Room fit-out. Three sides of the room are panelled and shelved out in dark fumed oak, nine shelves high from floor to ceiling level. The fourth side to the room is a glazed façade. The shelves are designed as simple cantilevers with classic ‘secret’ doorways to either end of the room also providing a minimal feel. To the main rear wall, secret pull-out shelves upon which to rest books are integrated within the main shelf construction. Lighting is provided above each by way of a flip-up nosing, each with integrated mirror which directs LED light beams downwards. Book dividers, plinth skirtings, bespoke door handles and air handling grilles are all in natural anodised aluminium. A full height, sliding stainless steel ladder with radiussed guide rail allows access to books to all three sides of the room, at any level. The choice of these materials provides a distinctly modern feel whilst contrasting with the dark oak elements.

A key reason for the success of the project was undoubtedly the close collaboration between the Project Architect Kenny Brown and Robert Thompsons and the shared emphasis and time both firms dedicated to the detail and accuracy of components - from the parts of the concealed supporting steelwork through to the craftsmanship of the many joinery elements. The result is a unique and somewhat striking interior of extremely high quality.

Traditional large pieces of ‘Mouseman’ furniture complete the fit-out of the room.

The complete build project reached the final of the much coveted RIBA Stirling Prize.

Photographic images courtesy of ionriver

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