Flexible event and meeting space refurbishment

Creating a statement venue space

When a leading law firm was overflowing from its existing office space, it seemed fitting that it would take on the River Rooms in an iconic building close by.

20-23 Lincoln’s Inn Fields is a 1930s seven-story building that was once home to the Royal Canadian Air Force in World War Two. Now, Farrer & Co. leases several floors in the building including more than 1,200 square foot of space on the ground floor.

It was the perfect space for hosting events but needed updating and to be divided into separate rooms for a more flexible set up.

A space for champions

Prior to the refurbishment, River Rooms was an exhibition space during the 2012 London Olympic Games. Farrers has a longstanding history with the British Olympic Association and a former partner, Emrys Lloyd, competed in four Olympic Games between 1932 and 1952 as a fencer.

Now, River Rooms can be used as one large space or three separate rooms.

Adam English, project manager at Sorrel Group, shares how the space was created: “It was a vast space to refurbish and an exciting project to work on due to the possibilities. In addition to the event space there is a kitchen and preparation area so there was a lot to consider.

“Farrers needed the space to be multi-functional, so the first consideration was separating the space. The area to the front of the building was perfect for creating a dedicated meeting room to take advantage of the natural daylight coming through from the large windows.”

The meeting room features three arched windows looking out onto the trees and greenery of Lincoln’s Inn Fields. Bi-folding doors stretching across eight metres were installed to create a private yet ample space that opens fully into the event space when needed. The doors run on a track that is flush to the floor and ceiling.

The main show

Many event spaces lack natural daylight and a flexible layout. River Rooms is a bright and airy space with options to move walls and open up doors, allowing the client to adapt the space to the needs of the event they are hosting.

However, the client only wanted the minimum necessary changes to the structure of the room, so the Sorrel team introduced reversible measures such as pivoting walls. Event spaces are reliant on technology, but this can sometimes deter from the aesthetics. To avoid reliance on multiple TV screens being installed on the walls, Sorrel Group built a pivoting wall with a large TV screen that can be pulled out when needed.

Adam explains how it works: “We created a hollow structure positioned on a steel pivot shoe. This allowed for us to install the TV, which otherwise would have damaged the permanent wall and would have needed additional reinforcement. Instead, this innovative approach also means the TV can be positioned wherever the client needs it and is then swiftly moved out the way.”

The Sorrel team upgraded and integrated the data and electric systems to ensure the AV was fast, a necessity for conferences and meetings.

The finishing touches

The scope of works was for a full refurbishment including the décor, furnishings, lighting, woodwork and the ceiling grid.

It also included the creation of a small food preparation area. Convection food heaters were installed to simplify the process of serving hot food for fine dining and social events, while ensuring the quality is not impaired.

The feel of the event space needed to reflect the prestige of the law firm. To achieve a chic, luxe feel, the interior designer, specified muslin material that wrapped the panels of the pivoting wall, allowing it to blend into the permanent walls for an elegant finish.

“The panels were more complex to fit than they appear. Each panel was hand wrapped with the resin-like fabric, which took great care and effort to ensure it was perfectly aligned with no wrinkles. It was worth it and the spotlights shining down onto the panels gives the feel of being in an expensive art gallery,” said Adam.

Trevor Cox, premises project manager at Farrer & Co, said:

“We wanted to ensure the venue space represented the firm well but also that it could be hired out. It is an attractive, flexible space that can serve multiple purposes in a prime location.

“The finish is excellent, and it was enjoyable working with Sorrel Group. We like that Sorrel is a one stop shop and they can provide a workforce to see through a large project. It makes my job easier.”