Monthly Office Pin-Up: 8 Canada Square

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For this month’s office showcase the Invisible Painter is thinking big. And offices don’t get much bigger than 8 Canada Square, the UK headquarters of HSBC.

When the tower was completed in 2002 it became the joint second tallest building in the UK, drawing with the Citigroup Centre just behind One Canada Square. Although the HSBC office has now dropped back to fourth following the arrival of Heron Tower and the Shard, it’s still an imposing presence on the London skyline.

But what is the building like on the inside, and why is it worthy of pin-up status?


It’s not everything, but sometimes size is too difficult to ignore. Not only does the HSBC tower have a striking exterior – its interior is equally magnificent. With lots of open space the tower is light and airy on the inside, and also provides increasingly spectacular views as you climb the levels.

HSBC has maximised the space available to create an open and relaxing workspace. With a bit of clever design and arrangement, the same can be done in offices of any size.


As you might expect from a building of this size, 8 Canada Square is more than just offices. There’s plenty of room for leisure in the building, allowing employees to take time out from the hectic banking environment. A gym shares the fifth floor with trading offices, while the entire first and sixth floors are dedicated to restaurants for employees and clients.

Having this leisure space can make a huge difference to an office, even when it’s not being used. Giving employees room to breathe creates a much friendlier office space.


The minute you step into the tower, you’re confronted with straight lines and shiny surfaces. This is a big-impact interior, designed to impress clients and remind employees of the company’s prestige.

This finish combined with the clean profile of the building’s exterior creates a sleek, coherent image that certainly has the desired effect. It’s all about context – most visitors to Canary Wharf would be disappointed to find beanbags and picnic tables inside the offices there.

Sometimes surprises can work in the right setting – if you’re in a tiny office with a modest exterior, try adding some luxury touches to give your workplace some unexpected sophistication.


All of those polished surfaces can start to feel a bit sterile after a while, so it’s good to see that there’s room in the tower for a bit of artistic flourish. The ‘history wall’ is made up of hundreds of images printed onto aluminium flags, some of which protrude from the main image to spell the company name.

Another nice touch is the lion guarding the doors, which migrated from HSBC’s Hong Kong office when the UK headquarters opened.

There’s a lot to learn from an office this size, and hopefully you’ve found some leading office fit out and refurbishment inspiration for your workplace however large or small. If you’re still stuck for commercial painting and decorating ideas, our team of painters and decorators in London is always happy to help.

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