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Fit for purpose

The new London office of interior design and project management company LXA is a showcase for the talents of its multidisciplinary team. Sara Bean is particularly intrigued by the inclusion of a healthy food café and world-class boxing gym

Engaging multiple teams to carry out a design project, whether it is a new build or a fit-out, can be a highly stressful experience involving a great deal of coordination and patience. This is why property-based design and project management company LXA has created its own in-house teams across multiple disciplines to ensure optimal efficiency and organisation.

When LXA moved into its brand-new offices at 2 London Bridge, it was able to combine the skills of its teams to complete the fit-out of the 465 sq m space within just eight weeks. The result is an attractive, flexible workspace complete with riverside views – with the interesting addition of a boxing gym and café, both open to the public.

According to David Rees, LXA Managing Director, the new space not only reflects the firm’s creative, community spirit, but showcases its in-house interior design, branding and construction teams, who, alongside its project managers, developers, hospitality consultants, procurement and cost consultants, provide a fully integrated service to clients.

Says Rees: “Our multidisciplinary approach is a big sell to clients as they like the fact that they’re not having to liaise with six different companies a day but instead can say, ‘you lot are in charge.’ In practice this means that once we start a project, for example, the project manager can’t blame the interior designer and vice versa. We have to ensure the detail is covered from start to finish.”

Rees is an architect by training but got into project management because he liked the fact that “as a PM you can participate more in projects than as an architect”. LXA now has around 35 people in London, 15 in Dubai and a handful of people in Bangalore in India. Commercial clients include Facebook and law firm Mishcon de Reya, with hospitality clients including Mark Wahlberg’s new London restaurant chain Wahlburgers, Emirates Retail Group and Le Cordon Bleu.

LXA’s reasons for moving were not particularly unusual, but its solution certainly was. Following a flood in its previous offices, the company moved into a coworking space as a quick fix, which according to Rees did not work for them. “They’re great for start-ups,” he comments, “but the novelty runs out very quickly, as during my working day I don’t want to use a pool table or drink beer.”

However, what he does like to do is use a boxing gym, and it so happened that the one where he was a member was closing down. “As a company we’ve been involved with several gyms before, so I thought we should set up our own gym in a railway arch or something,” he explained. Instead, when a property agent friend found the 2 London Bridge Riverside property, they put their heads together and came up with something radical.

“I went to see it and he suggested ‘this can be your office and your gym’. The idea was a community for working, training and eating, and as you see on the front of the space, we call it 2LB, short for 2 London Bridge, but with the theme ‘to live better’.”

LXA partnered with Richard ‘The Secret’ Williams, a former Commonwealth and IBO world champion boxer, to create The Secret Boxing Gym to deliver professional-level boxing training and classes alongside other high-intensity interval training, cardio and yoga classes. All this takes place alongside the café and office, within a fitness studio where the huge picture window allows users to feel as if they’re training outside – especially when the doors are open.

The other innovation was the installation of the To Live Better Café, which is located alongside the gym at the entrance to the building. Like the the gym, the café was created, designed and fitted out by the in-house LXA teams. Following some discussion on whether to use an external catering franchise, “we thought, why not do it ourselves? Our hospitality director has opened over 80 restaurants, so since we’re helping others set up bars and restaurants, why not do it ourselves?”

He continues: “The café staff were recruited to work for us and they serve local produce from neighbourhood suppliers at Borough Market. From a design point of view, if it were a franchise it would be their design, but this way all of the branding works together. And the café is also the common denominator within the space, so that when people finish their workout they’ve got a main communal spot to sit, whether they are a member of staff or a client.”

About Sarah OBeirne


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