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Squire & Partners has completed The Brewery Building for client Atlas Properties – a reimagining of an existing 1970s office building in Islington.
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Now one of our favourite parts of the capital, the transformation is spectacular, from Granary Wharf and Central St Martins through to the brilliant new workplaces and mixed-use developments beyond, which continue to rise out of the ground.
There’s also an impressive remodelling and reworking of many fine older buildings – one of which we are here to see today. Squire and Partners has completed the refurbishment, extension and fit-out of The Brewery Building – an existing 1970s office building in that rapidly emerging zone between King’s Cross and Islington – on behalf of Atlas Property.
The building (named after the road it sits on rather than its own heritage) makes strong references to the area’s industrial past, whilst providing the proportions and facilities required to provide a successful office building for occupiers; the original structure has been repurposed while two additional floors have been added to create 11,000 sq ft of creative workspace, aimed towards local independent businesses.
We’re met outside the building – where this story really begins – by Squire and Partners’ James Halliday and Sean Normington. Architect Sean tells us a little about the recent history of the building and the process behind this transformation. ‘This was a three-storey warehouse/storage unit – it was a little bit out of scale and out of character, with very little natural light getting into it,’ he says. ‘So, we retained the structure on ground, 1st and 2nd floors, and then added two additional storeys, which utilise a steel frame structure with timber joints. What we wanted to do was to open up the windows – down at those lower storeys particularly – so we reworked the entire façade. We spent a lot of time researching the brick – in fact we spent months testing different brick types and weathering techniques in order to get it exactly as we wanted it. The brickwork on the rear façade is the existing material – we retained as much of that as we could. Then the brickwork on the side and front elevations is new but weathered.
‘Wherever we could, we tried to take influence from industrial buildings and old railway buildings, so the balustrade design on the front façade is taken from the scissor gate design you find on a lot of railway buildings. That then led to the 45-degree brickwork. Like I said, this is an existing building with an extension, but by doing this it ensures that it still looks like one single building. Again, this took a lot of testing, but it was definitely worth it. It’s been really successful.
‘We used robust materials throughout, taking the proportions of successful office buildings – that’s really the key to our scheme. So the original narrow, horizontal windows have been enlarged to create full-height windows that improve daylight within the internal spaces.
Deeper recesses improve solar shading, while the central opening doors provide the opportunity for fresh air. Juliet balconies, complete with those light metal balustrades, have then been created to add to that theme of contemporary meets Victorian.
We spent a lot of time researching the brick – in fact we spent months testing different brick types and weathering techniques in order to get it exactly as we wanted it
Moving inside, exposed concrete soffits allow generous floor to ceiling heights. A tonal colour palette, with colours inspired by aged industrial materials such as Verdigris and rust, has been used to complement the building exterior. Materials such as concrete, metal and timber, combined with exposed services and lighting continue the industrial aesthetic.
‘We could see that this would fit an open plan office scheme really nicely,’ Sean continues. ‘It always had great potential.
‘Due to planning parameters, the ground floor space has been retained as a light industry unit – but I think that mix of tenants will only add to the character.’
We move up to the 2nd floor, which has been developed from shell and core into what our hosts describe as a marketing suite. The interior team at Squire and Partners have taken the 2,000 sq ft floorplate and transformed it into a vibrant, flexible and agile working space ideally suited to the type of tenant the building is looking to attract – and the district continues to entice. ‘Obviously, the building didn’t have exposed Victorian ceilings that we could show off,’ Associate, Interior Design, James points out, ‘but we wanted to still have that exposed services feel, so we painted the cabling trays black – it was a lot more work, but it was definitely worth it.’
‘We only had about two weeks to fit out this space – in fact we had about six weeks to specify everything and take into account manufacturing times. We worked closely with Rawside – who are based down in Brixton. Their raw, industrial aesthetic fitted really well with the narrative and concept for the building. They were the ideal partners.
‘The black and white palette and use of natural materials allows tenants to introduce their own personality to the space. This is a marketing suite but it would be really nice if someone did come in and take everything.
‘The soft seating and greenery add a layer of comfort and domesticity, and offer alternative working and meeting spaces. The fact that there are windows on both the front and rear elevation means that you get an amazing amount of natural light throughout the space – and the views are pretty special too, even down here on the 2nd floor!’
Squire and Partners’ sister branding agency, Mammal, created a new brand identity for the building, drawing inspiration from the layered bricks of the building and linking them to the layers of culture and creativity that can be found in the area. This cohesive approach – with architect, interior designer and branding all working together – has helped position the Brewery Building as a new place to create, inspire and succeed.
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