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53 Great Suffolk Street \

Reinterpreting the Victorian Warehouse

Sensitive refurbishment and extension of a Victorian warehouse that brings 40,000 square feet of much needed workspace to Southwark. A palette of high quality, crafted materials complement the existing building to create a rich working environment.

53 Great Suffolk Street is a Victorian warehouse building originally built around the 1890s and believed to have been used as a blacksmiths and meat factory throughout its history. 

The renovation and extension more than doubles the floor area to 40,000 square feet by creating a new build extension which takes on the language of the existing building, reinterpreting it in a contemporary and confident way.

The Challenge

The challenge was to create a new building which can be read as one whole, striking the right balance between being sympathetic to the existing warehouse and its special qualities but also to create a strong, contemporary and contextual building. 

The Big Idea

A palette of carefully considered, textural, crafted and natural materials were selected to compliment the raw nature of the existing warehouse building.

The centrepiece of the design is a cantilevered raw steel staircase with brass fittings which stitches the floors together and sits within a glazed enclosure to be visible from each office space. Natural light is drawn down from the light well above which is complemented with handmade hanging light fittings. The raw steel is then referenced throughout different areas of the building to tie the new and old building together.

The extension creates an additional floor across the whole site without appearing to increase the massing, through the introduction of dormers at roof level. Structurally this posed a significant challenge as very little additional weight could be put through the existing warehouse, leading to a cantilevered solution which brings the weight down into the new buildings foundations. 

Working from the Inside Out

A guiding principle of the interiors strategy was to avoid the use of painted plasterboard and instead express each element and material separately and honestly. A raw mild steel feature stair with brass fittings stitches the floors together within a glazed enclosure. Exposed services are carefully coordinated within a hybrid steel and concrete structure.

  • Project Details
  • Materials
  • Under Construction

Project Summary

Project Team

Contractor: Iconic Build
Project Manager: Workman PLC
Structural Engineer: F J Samuely and Partners Ltd.
Mechanical & Electrical Consultants: Watkins Payne Partnership

Awards

  • RIBA Awards 2018 - London Regional Award - Winner
  • BD Architect of the Year Awards 2018 - Interior Architect of the Year - Shortlisted
  • New London Awards 2017 - Offices - Shortlisted

Materials

We underwent a lengthy selection process for the new external bricks to ensure they reflect not just the appearance of the building but encompass the entire design thinking. We settled on a brick by Janinhoff, a small, family run brick producer who make bricks in one of the last circular brick kilns in Germany still in operation. Traditional manufacturing techniques are employed to produce hand-blended clinkers marked by their authenticity, durability and permanence. These complex and distinctive bricks have a unique character and their natural variety in colour brings a subtle liveliness to the façades.  

Under Construction

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