De Beauvoir Block, N1

Restoration of a terrace of early 20th century industrial buildings creating 33 workspaces and a new central yard. The architecture creates robust, sustainable, day lit and naturally ventilated interiors opening up to the new yard and terraces.

De Beauvoir Block, N1

Scheme details

Architect: Henley Halebrown
Client: The Benyon Estate
Contractor: Sullivan Brothers Construction

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About the project

The terrace of industrial buildings - now the Block - was originally developed at the turn of the Twentieth Century, in De Beauvoir Town, London. The project reshapes these to form a central yard, and creates a new roofscape of timber structures wrapped in EPDM rubber. The scheme combines careful restoration with new construction.

The Block is a network of 33 workspaces, ranging from 300 to 2,500 sq. ft., designed and equipped to support individuals and businesses in the creative industries. The architecture seeks to support this community, and to create robust and sustainable, daylit and naturally ventilated interiors, that open up to the new yard, decks and terraces, and views of the City.

Like the practice's earlier works, Shepherdess Walk, Talkback and St.Monica's Hoxton, the Block - in this case a terrace of two and three storey industrial brick buildings - is treated as a found object. As Reyner Banham argues in his book A Concrete Atlantis it was this building type that forecast early European Modernism. It is a monument of the unintended variety. It has a voice, and its restoration can strengthen that voice.

However, the calm repetitive facade concealed a morass of buildings and interiors, with no evident figure. Therefore our task was to translate the unintentioned into the intentioned, latent in the form and fabric of the existing structures. Both morphology and matter play a part.

A yard was carved to create a centric plan that would make sense as something to be shared: a common point of arrival, of convergence and congregation. Around this, the various brick structures are treated as a feature in the wider de Beauvoir landscape - a mesa-top - on which to plan and build a settlement of smaller structures.

Page updated: 16/11/2018 14:59:42