The Lloyd's building in London

Lloyd's building in London to undergo "once-in-a-generation" overhaul

The iconic Underwriting Room at the heart of Richard Rogers' high-tech Lloyd's building in London is set to undergo a major redesign by its owner, insurance company Lloyd's of London.

Planned for 2022, the "once-in-a-generation" overhaul of the Grade I-listed building's central space is being carried out to better accommodate the firm's flexible working practices following the coronavirus pandemic.

The Underwriting Room in the Lloyd's building
The Underwriting Room at Lloyd's is set to be redesigned. Photo is by Colin via Wikimedia Commons

Alongside the three-storey Underwriting Room, Lloyd's of London will also be revamping several of its supporting spaces.

However, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, the studio that was co-founded by now-retired architect Rogers, is not currently involved in the process and has declined to comment on the plans.

Plans driven by "increasing trends of flexible working"

The Lloyd's building was Rogers' first high-tech office block, completed in the UK capital in 1986 as part of his former studio, Richard Rogers Partnership.

It is known for its distinctive inside-out aesthetic in which all of its building services are placed on its exterior to create large open-plan spaces inside.

The Underwriting Room, a 60-metre-high atrium, is its central hub and, before the coronavirus pandemic, "welcomed more than 5,000 experts from more than 50 leading insurance companies" each day, according to the insurance firm.

The Underwriting Room in the Lloyd's building
The Underwriting Room forms the heart of the building. Photo is by Janet Gill, courtesy of RSHP

"We have embarked on a once-in-a-generation journey to redesign the iconic Underwriting Room and supporting spaces in the Lloyd's building," a spokesperson from Lloyd's of London told Dezeen.

"The decision to undertake this journey has been driven by the increasing trends of flexible working and digitalisation, which have been accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic."

Final plans to be revealed this year

The final design and architect that Lloyd's of London will be working with for the project will not be decided until later this year. However, the insurance firm has been carrying out consultations and targeted focus groups to develop ideas for the redesign.

"Through Q1 2021, we completed an extensive market consultation to gather insights and ideas about the future requirements for spaces and services our marketplace needs," it said.

"Currently, like many other organisations, we are considering a range of options around our workspace strategy and the future leasing arrangements for Lloyd's. Our final plans will be shared later in 2021 once we have fully explored all the options available to us."

The ideas it has shared so far include introducing different-sized spaces to support private and collaborative work, alongside areas that accommodate both physical and virtual interactions.

This will include developing ways for the Underwriting Room to work with the firm's Virtual Room – a digital platform introduced for underwriters and brokers to connect while working remotely.

Lloyd's of London is also considering introducing a high-end restaurant at the top of the building to help attract more clients and open the building to the public, reported The Times.

History of "frustrations" with building

The news of the overhaul comes seven years after reports that the insurance firm was considering leaving the radical Lloyd's building due to "frustrations" and "costly" repairs required due to the exposure of building services.

It is the second high-tech building by Rogers to face extensive renovations. In Paris, the Centre Pompidou that he designed with Renzo Piano is due to close in 2023 for repair works over four years.

The building, which is also known for its inside-out aesthetic, has a number of elements in need of replacing, such as its heating and cooling system, escalators and elevators. It is the second time that the Centre Pompidou has faced closure due to construction works since its opening.

The main image of the Lloyd's building is by Richard Bryant, courtesy of arcaidimages.com.