Award-winning architecture and interior design practice gpad london and developer Maurice Investments have completed a grade A workspace refurbishment in Aldgate, East London. Wool + Tailor paves the way for a new generation of creativity and innovation in an area steeped in the history of tailoring and the wool trade. It adds to the rich tapestry of buildings in Aldgate’s busy commercial hub.
Situated in one of London’s fastest growing areas, key to the brief was to bring it up to contemporary standards. Wool + Tailor now offers high quality media-style workspace, catering for a range of businesses and start-ups. An extension on the top floor increases net internal floor area and maximises efficient site usage.
Dynamic fret-cut detailing and a bespoke reception desk create an outstanding first impression. The office floors have generous floor-to-ceiling heights and a widely spaced column grid. Exposed industrial features celebrate the building’s history.
Unusually, the two 1980s, street-facing north and south facades were markedly different in style and this gave a disjointed effect. It was crucial to knit together the distinct styles of the surrounding buildings, the modernist look of Alie Street and the more traditional yellow brick frontage of St Mark Street, while allowing each to respond to its specific context.
Giving the tired building a new lease of life, the dark red and purple polished granite of the front facade has been sand-blasted and painted matt black. This introduces a cleaner, simplified contemporary aesthetic and ties in sensitively with the streetscape, which has recently been radically altered.
Contrasting with the black paint, anodised aluminium reveals accentuate the fenestration. The use of existing openings was maximised, flooding the interior with more natural light. The windows have been replaced with high performance aluminium glazing, bringing window and door elements up to modern standards.
Working with the grain of a neighbouring, listed Victorian warehouse, the rear elevation has been extended with red sand-faced wire-cut brick. New aluminium Crittal-style windows embellish the fabric and a new black render finish on the ground floor gives the building a base on which to sit.
Top floor extension
The 6th floor extension, with a lightweight zinc standing seam, bridges the differing scale and style of the front and the rear and ties them together. The 7th floor, primarily visible from the front façade, features aluminium rainscreen cladding to match the window reveals below, providing consistency to the design yet appearing as a lightweight extension element.
A south-facing terrace on the 6th floor and a dual-aspect one on the 7th give panoramic views across the City and beyond, acting as a place to meet or unwind and complementing an inspiring workspace. Internal layouts have been improved and a cycle store, lockers and shower changing area are included.
To ensure sustainability and provide comfortable working conditions all-year round, a high-efficiency HVAC system and a waste strategy were provided, along with a photovoltaic solar system. Alie Street also boasts an eco-friendly biodiverse roof, and facilities to ensure full accessibility with level access to all building entrances, step-free circulation and access to external terraces, lift access to all floors and disabled refuge on every level.
Architect, Simon Fancourt, comments:
‘Alie Street was peculiar with its two very different aesthetics, both betraying their ages. To add to this, the streetscape itself is characterised by an array of massing, scale and architectural styles. The challenge to find a common ground that would unite and celebrate both captivated us at gpad. We’re excited to have brought something new to the area to stimulate its continuing regeneration.’
‘In London it’s that patchwork effect of new and historic buildings that is really exciting. It gives you a lot to feed off as a designer. Placemaking was also an important factor influencing our approach; in order to reinvigorate the neighbourhood for the vibrant community in the area, causing minimal impact on adjacent buildings in terms of daylight and sense of place and permanence was key.’
Gavin Wogman from Maurice Investments comments:
‘Aldgate is a thriving area that’s recently gone through a major transformation. Being on the fringes of the City, it sees a lot of overspill in terms of demand for office space. This was a great opportunity to create a really curated space that reflects the history of the area while responding to the need for great quality offices.’