Making spaces work for a living\

This month's ADF looks at 24-26 White Post Lane, a mixed-use scheme putting commercial units at the core, and it's challenge to maintain the important sense of vitality that characterises the area in north east London.

Hackney Wick together with its conjoined district of Fish Island, is as the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) local plan correctly states, a "special place."

Sandwiched between Victoria Park and the Olympic Park, over recent decades its former industrial buildings have been colonised by artists and creative and light industries keen to benefit from their generous proportions and robust design, as well as the proximity to central London and the area's more affordable rates compared to Spitalfields or Hoxton.

The word 'vibrant' is thrown around a lot, but the area genuinely deserves that term: it's undeniably a cultural quarter, with over 600 studios and workspaces, plus galleries, cafes and small shops. Hackney Wick together with its Hackney Wick and Fish Island (HWFI) is to have the densest concentration of artists' studios in Europe, and is also home to many established companies, serving London with everything from food to printing.

“We had to maximise the footprint while creating decent streetscapes, a decent yard width and a geometry that made sense.”

Phil Catcheside Partner

The rich industrial legacy is combined with something of an island character due to the area being somewhat cut off by canals, railway lines and major roads, and many artists and commercial users demonstrate a collective approach to organising factory units. The streets are filled with small, attractive factory buildings and delineated by tree-lined waterways including the canalised River Lee.

However with it being such an increasingly popular and fashionable area, growth in residential development as well as regeneration and conversion of industrial spaces caused Hackney Council to point to scarcity of future commercial space to support much-needed employment and maintain the area's character.

“On White Post Lane itself but also in the larger urban block, there are a number of non-standard yards with the commercial tenants sharing the space. It's semi-private, can be gated or left open for more permeable ground floor use.”

Phil Catcheside Partner

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