PUBLIC Hall is nearly here. Our first GovTech workspace for public sector innovators is just over a week away from doors opening – so we couldn’t resist heading inside to bring you a behind the scenes tour of One Horse Guards Avenue.
CHATEAU MY GOD
Part of Whitehall Court, One Horse Guards Avenue is a sweeping Victorian building in the style of a grand French Renaissance chateau.
Originally obtained by Property Speculator Jonathan Carr in 1884 as a grand apartment block, it’s now recognised as one of the country’s finest Grade II listed buildings – and it’s not just the exterior that’s special. Step inside the black and white tiled entrance hall and you’ll immediately see why.
Sweeping staircases. Ornate Victorian high ceilings. Elegant period windows. One Horse Guards Avenue isn’t your average setting for a workspace. Our Founder Gaby Hersham shares the challenges (and opportunities) of taking on a Grade II listed building:
“PUBLIC Hall will look tangibly different from existing Huckletree spaces, however we were keen to retain the dramatic feel of the original architecture. We were conscious that whilst our designs needed to bring newness, they also needed to be mindful of their historic setting. We’ve evolved the Huckletree aesthetic in line with the heritage of One Horse Guards and our partners, PUBLIC.”
That means refined versions of classic Huckletree stripes coming together with classic art inspiration:
“The result is a merging of old and new, bringing new sophistication to Huckletree in a contemporary take on Art Deco. You’ll see colours that are reflective of English Heritage, including our takes on Celestial Blue, Dorchester Pink and Sage Green.”
Let’s explore. Inside our Private Studios, you’ll find some of the beautiful original details that make PUBLIC Hall so unusual.
Wander up the curving staircase, tracing your fingers along the wooden banister worn smooth by many hands before. Peer into each private studio as you pass – curiosities await you.
Flame tongued griffons gamble across an ornate wooden fireplace. Delicate curling golden fronds trail across red baize panels. Elegant domed windows offer a sweeping view down the avenue to Whitehall.
Downstairs, classical heroes in marble bear the weight of a magnificent fireplace, whilst a faun, horns bedecked with grapes and vine leaves, gazes impudently out at the world. Crystal chandeliers throwback to One Horse Guards’ illustrious history (did we mention the Secret Intelligence Service was based here in World War 1?). Oh, and if you’ve got a bit of a thing for tiles, how does emerald terrazzo marble sound?
PUBLIC Hall isn’t a monument to the past. We’re introducing new elements to create an inclusive, inspiring workplace for the future:
Nursing & Pumping Room
Just eight minutes down the road in Parliament, breastfeeding is currently not allowed in the House of Commons chamber and committees. As debate continues over allowing children under five into the Commons chamber, we’re proud to say that PUBLIC Hall is breastfeeding friendly, and we’ve created a dedicated Nursing Room for pumping and quiet moments, too. Mothers with babes-in-arms have a place not only in the workplace, but at decision-making tables. It’s time they’re made truly welcome.
Round Table Room
Set in a beautiful studio overlooking the Ministry of Defence, the Round Table Room is our inner sanctum. Designed to encourage greater exchange between politicians, civil servants and technologists, it will play host to roundtables with our members, MPs, government officials and change-makers of Parliament.
This isn’t an old school setup. No dusty tomes destined to languish on shelves here. We’ve chosen titles from the most innovative political and social thinkers, creators and activists of our time – not just history. Take books away, challenge your thinking – and add your own favourites for the community, too. A book isn’t a book if the ideas stay unread on the page.
PUBLIC Hall has its own little oasis. Classically English, Whitehall Gardens is a designated Site of Importance for Natural Conservation for its contribution to local wildlife including Thames breeding birds. Stroll along the path, take in the tropical palms and beds of seasonal blooms – and keep an eye out for PUBLIC Hall Membership Manager Ruby in a sun salutation on our first-floor terrace. She has big plans for making wellness part of your day, starting on the terrace:
“Look out for early morning yoga, taking in sun rays, gazing out over gardens and over the Thames. That’s just the start – did somebody say ‘sober raves’…?”
PUBLIC Hall launches in August. Membership applications are open – arrange your visit with our team now.