For the Duxton Hill office brief, we were presented with a three-storey shop house that had previously been used for a very typical office space — carpet tiles on the floor, small, dark claustrophobic rooms, blinding florescent lighting and little natural daylight to work with. Yet, despite this, the building has a rich history and some beautiful architecture. Wanting to give the historic shop a renewed freshness whilst remaining sensitive to its original character and features, we started by stripping everything back to the bare minimum, in doing so opening up dark corners and reinvigorating the space.

At the ground floor, we wanted a strong focal point that would bring some wow factor. The obvious choice was to make use of the natural light that is so notable of these traditional shop houses, so we decided to bring the nature outside in. We placed a five-meter high tree in the centre, which serves as a beautiful focal point and draws the eye through the space and up towards the light. Everything else on the ground floor we kept quiet and almost invisible with two modern glass boxes for the reception counters, the floor stripped and painted back to a gallery-like finish and floating artwork.

Level two holds the boardroom and meeting rooms. For this level we wanted to retain the original clean and simple design, making use of only one or two key features such as the floating framed photography and a patterned rug in the boardroom. We kept an almost completely monochrome palette with only a few exceptions, most notably the brown boardroom chairs. With the ground-floor tree reaching up through the floors, the greenery of the tree canopy can be enjoyed at level two as well.

For the top floor, we wanted to clearly define the executive office with a relaxing sofa area, bespoke desk and eclectic pieces of furniture. Subtle injections of colour through artwork and cushions add a vibrancy to the space, whilst simple grey-washed flooring, white walls and muted palette give a calm softness. The adjoining balcony adds a further relaxing and informal element.

For more projects by Elliot James, visit www.elliotjames.com