The Writers Spitalfields London, Residential Apartments Building, Design, Property
The Writers Spitalfields
London Residential Apartments Development, UK – design by ORMS, Architects
29 Nov 2010
The Writers Spitalfields
ORMS completes transformation of City office buildings into elegant residential apartments.
Design: ORMS Architects
The Writers Spitalfields
ORMS Architecture Design has completed the transformation of two office buildings into a stylish residential complex, united by a tranquil central courtyard in the City of London. The project, for Artillery Lane Ltd includes the refurbishment of a total of 25,000 sq ft of office accommodation to provide 26 apartments and 8,000 sq ft of retail and restaurant space at ground and basement levels.
Taking its name from the famous nearby market, ‘The Writers Spitalfields’ project is located within easy reach of Liverpool Street station and lies within the Bishopsgate Conservation Area. By sensitively retaining and extending the street-facing facades of the original office buildings on Middlesex Street and Artillery Lane, the architect has created a reinvigorated building which enhances the existing streetscape of the Conservation Area. Once visitors are within the courtyard its open, contemporary face is revealed.
The majority of the apartments – a mixture of studio, one and two bed units – are designed as dual aspect to maximise the amount of daylight into each unit. They incorporate prefabricated kitchen and bathroom pods and have a high performing thermal envelope. Each unit is accessed from the corridor adjacent to the central core with sleeping spaces facing the courtyard and living spaces on the street elevations.
The apartments are privately rented and are available on a medium and long term basis. Since completion the units have achieved over a 90% occupancy rate.
The internal layout of the apartments was derived from the grain of the existing structure. This approach has allowed the creation of 26 unique apartments four of which are duplex. The studio apartments have dedicated sleeping areas and the separating wall is designed with opaque glass to maximise daylight to this space.
The fourth floor of the Artillery Lane building contains 3no. duplex units which have double height living spaces, terraces to Artillery Lane and Skylights above the bed on the upper level.
The granite and timber clad courtyard is situated in the centre of the site, which has been significantly remodelled to create a dramatic, sunlit space from which both the residential buildings are accessed. The original buildings previously backed onto each other and were connected with two storey in-fills. The main design move was to remove the in-fills back to the original building line and create two new stair and lift cores to access the apartments. Between the two cores a three-storey infill has been created which forms one end of the courtyard.
The courtyard is populated with corteen steel planters, which contain trees and bamboo plants, seating and a concierge pod. From the courtyard residents can view into both restaurants and across traditional London rooftops and gardens to the east.
The lift cores are clad in copper coloured Parklex panels while a transparent ‘veil’ of vertical timber fins that screen the staircases behind. The cores are articulated to express the lift shaft, arrival balcony and stair. The stair cores are covered but not enclosed therefore you can hear and talk to your neighbours as your circulate up and down the buildings.
The yellow stock brickwork of the façade of Middlesex Street building has been sensitively restored and a new brickwork parapet added to tie in with the cornice height of the adjacent buildings. New double glazed windows with a central spandrel panel increase the vertical reading of the facade and a new zinc clad top floor has replaced the original pitched roof. The proportions of the fenestration were derived from an analysis of the adjacent window proportions.
At ground level the façade has been ‘opened up’ to increase views into the restaurant with a new rendered colonnade added to frame the windows and ‘ground’ the building. The refurbished building now sits sensitively within the surrounding context.
From street level it is not immediately apparent that the Artillery Lane building has been extensively refurbished and extended. The façade has been restored along with the formation of new openings at either end of the elevation and new central Juliette balconies added to the centre. Traditional timber sash and case windows with high performing double glazing have replaced the original windows but it is the new three storey extension on top that has been purposely designed to minimise its impact from the street level.
The new third floor is set back from the street and constructed using a traditional brick cavity wall with a further two storeys added on top in a zinc clad rooftop extension. The rooftop is a mansard and sets even further back from the third floor, hence it is not visible from street level. The new extensions are formed from lightweight and sustainable FJI joists which are packed with insulation to form a highly insulated envelope.
ORMS director John McRae explains ‘The refurbishment and re-use of existing buildings is a vital part of evolving our cities for the future. This development will offer a rare combination of a busy central London location, integration of traditional and contemporary design and a feeling of community.
We have sensitively and creatively worked with the two existing buildings to transform them for the next 50 years. The development captures the spirit of London by creating a mews at its heart which proves a space to relax, read or chat with your neighbours.’
The Writers Spitalfields – Building Information
Architect: ORMS Architecture Design
Client: Artillery Lane Ltd
Quantity Surveyors: Gardiner & Theobald
Structural Engineer: MBP Partnership
M&E Engineers: Vector Design
Contractor: Ellmer Construction
The Writers Spitalfields London image / information received 291110
Location:Artillery Lane, London, UK