Caruso St John Architects

1997
Location: London, UK
Client: East City Investments
Project Status: Built

This project attempts to enact the transformation of a building by interpreting its existing material condition. By critically assessing its current condition, by selective demolition and by making the absolute minimum of new formal interventions, the architects sought reveal what was already there rather than overlay a new, more fashionable layer.

The interiors were emptied of previous installations, floor coverings were removed and the cleared wall and ceiling surfaces were painted with satin-white paint. With all evidence of previous use removed, the simple concrete columns and down stand beams, the hardwood parquet floor and the generous glazing became the primary tectonic elements in clear and well lit studio spaces. A very simple new lighting and electrical installation was introduced relating to the existing structure and pipe-work. The character of the new installation comes from very ordinary equipment being located with a heightened precision.

The shared spaces of the interior, in particular the five-storey stair hall, already had a strong spatial identity. The extensive terrazzo floor, a relative luxury in an industrial building, was carefully restored and simple fluorescent light fittings were connected to existing conduit, positioned to clarify the inherent drama of the space.

In order to emphasise the agglomerative volumes of the building, the blank brick faces framing the main entrance were coated with a black organic stain. Three new entrances were made in softwood, galvanised steel and toughened glass to extend the formal language of the existing building.