Refurbished RNIB London hub opens

The building incorporates key accessibility features, and is the first in the UK to apply a new standard on creating environments for neurodiverse communities

A birds-eye view down on a large pale-brown brick building with white accents and a dark bell tower. The building is surrounded by trees, with the RNIB logo above the door

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has opened its new London hub, which has been renovated with “inclusivity and accessibility at its heart.”

The Grimaldi Building, on Pentonville Road in Islington, London, was refurbished following engagement with blind and partially sighted users.

It is the first building in the UK to incorporate innovations for individuals living with sight loss, along with fully implementing the BSI PAS 6493 ‘Design for the Mind – Neurodiversity and the Built Environment’ standard.

The facilities include the low vision assessment clinics, Products for Life store, a heritage area, a multi-faith room, Talking Books recording studios, RNIB Connect Radio broadcast studio, and amenities for guide dogs.

It also includes a usability lab designed as a living room to showcase adaptations, a space for individuals experiencing sensory overload or stress, sensory garden, and zoned areas for quiet or collaborative working.

A view into an open reception area, to the right is a desk with the RNIB logo on the wall behind, on the left are two white armchairs and a low sofa with bright pink and yellow cushions.
The building has been designed with inclusivity and accessibility at heart

Tricia Smikle, senior project manager at RNIB, described the new hub as “so much more than a place of work,” commenting: “It symbolises the charity’s confidence to look forward and to create an inclusive environment designed with everyone in mind.”

Smikle continued: “As a charity, we believe that the world should be accessible to all, and this important move and adopting the new BSI guidance for neurodiversity represents RNIB’s values, and our continued determination to build a more inclusive society.”


The refurbishment was created by consultancy, Buro Happold, and architects from Kay Elliott.

Jean Hewitt, inclusive environments specialist and part of the inclusive design team at Buro Happold, is a technical author on the new PAS 6463 design standard.

Discussing the work on RNIB’s hub, Hewitt called it: “a true joy and privilege to work on the first building in the UK to interpret and apply the guidance.”

A low image tilting up to see the corner of a doorway, with a bright white strip of light across the top, and on the right-hand-side, a sign with a colourful QR code.
NaviLens app points around the facility provide audio descriptions of the surrounding area

The guidance is designed to offer flexibility in its application, Hewitt said, “With this building demonstrating what’s possible, I hope others will follow suit, to make places as inclusive as possible for everyone to enjoy and have the opportunity to flourish.”

Yuli Cadney-Toh, director and architect at Kay Elliot, shared that hearing stakeholder lived experiences was a key starting point for work on the facilities, adding: “RNIB was absolutely clear from the beginning that accessibility is a key driver for their new London base.”

“Some of the best and most satisfying features of the project for me are where the integration of the smallest details makes the use of a space or amenity more enjoyable,” Cadney-Toh said. “The small things matter and getting this right has large positive impacts.”