Hackney Town Hall\

Rebuilding civic pride

Hackney Town Hall is once again a source of civic pride and fine example of art deco architecture following its complete refurbishment for Hackney Council.

The Challenge

Hackney Town Hall, designed by Lanchester and Lodge, was completed in 1937 and is Grade II listed. After 80 years of intensive use and little investment the building was in need of restoration and modernisation. A key driver was to bring it in line with current building standards and improve accessibility. The opportunity was taken to refurbish and enhance the spaces for the council staff, visitors and public to ensure its viable continued future use.

The works were carried out over a series of complex overlapping phases linked to funding over seven years to allow the Town Hall to remain open throughout.

“Hawkins\Brown have provided an excellent service to the Council. Their creative approaches to design has overcome some challenging problems and together with the Client, they have engaged with stakeholders in order to realise and achieve their key requirements and expectations”

Richard Male Client Representative

The Big Idea

The works represent a significant long term public investment and measures have been taken to ensure the project provides value for money, increases efficiency and reduces waste and relative management costs.

The rejuvenated town hall can now accommodate more staff, more council services (freeing up other buildings) and is easier and more sustainable to maintain. By remodelling spaces, the staff occupancy has been increased by 70% and the office design supports smart ways of working with a 6:10 desk to staff ratio.

The conversion of outmoded spaces has allowed for the sensitive introduction of new event venues with the capacity to generate future revenue. At the heart of the building the unused light wells have become multi-functional atria complete with a feature acoustic wall. The atria adjoin with level access to the new marriage suites and the public reception. The assembly halls now have a functioning bar befitting of the art deco interior.

Heritage panelled rooms such as the council chamber and committee rooms have been sensitively restored. The Portland stone facade has been cleaned and repaired but largely unaltered whilst the original Crittall windows have been upgraded with ultra slim double glazing to improve thermal efficiency.

“Hackney Town Hall has been restored for the purpose for which it was designed – a building fit for the most effective public administration, to deliver the best possible services for its residents.”

Jules Pipe Ex-mayor of Hackney, Deputy Mayor of London

The Small Detail

A holistic interior design approach was taken to refurbish the original features and complement with new contemporary fittings. Each new element has been inspired by an art deco original design. The timber inlay borders adorning the council chamber seating, now restored and repolished, have informed the brass inlay borders of the new atria resin terrazzo floor, for example.

We worked closely with specialist lighting consultants to create a cohesive lighting strategy to heritage rooms, restoring beautiful original fittings, upgrading to LED, designing new to suit each space type.

The original palette of bronze, marble, walnut and oak has been retained and is complemented with subtle green and gold hues. The complete works have involved many specialist craftspeople from French polishers, traditional upholsterers to marble workers. They have paid acute attention to detail and have had the well-deserved support of conservation bodies.

It required creative thinking to subtly integrate improved building services, AV systems and architectural interventions with the original fabric and where possible original services routes were rediscovered and reused.

Within the new atria, the large service riser linked to the fire strategy required screening and at the same time acoustic performance addressing. Our solution was to introduce bronze anodised aluminium acoustic wall panels spanning the atria. These feature an abstracted perforation pattern which when stood from a distance reveals an image mimicking the now concealed back of house services wall.

“The people behind the restoration of Hackney Town Hall have themselves been at the heart of rebuilding civic pride.”

Jules Pipe Ex-mayor of Hackney, Deputy Mayor of London

The Bigger Picture

The project has been part of a wider Council masterplan for a civic campus. In 2005, Hawkins\Brown was appointed to carry out the much needed restoration of the building, and in 2007, we completed the Hillman Street Annexe to allow the Town Hall functions to decant, pending completion of the new Service Centre by Michael Hopkins. In 2012, works to the assembly halls were completed, followed by the committee rooms, offices, council chamber and atria. In 2017 the restoration works were completed.

“So good to see a truly exemplary and wonderfully careful restoration of a great public building, making it fit for purpose as a 21st century civic building and retaining the quality of the original.”

Duncan Wilson Chief Executive, Historic England

  • Project Details
  • Sustainability
  • Collaboration

Project Summary

Project Team

Contractor: Osborne
Structural Engineer: Warehams
M&E Engineer: Jacobs
Quantity Surveyor: Ridge & Partners
Consultant: Turner Bates
Project Management: Ridge & Partners
Lighting Design: DPA Lighting Consultants


  • Hackney Design Awards 2018 - People's Choice Awards - Winner
  • Historic England Angel Award 2018 - Best Major Regeneration of an Historic Building or Place - Commendation
  • FX International Interior Design Award 2018 - Public Sector - Shortlisted
  • Building Awards 2018 - Refurbishment Project of the Year - Shortlisted
  • Dezeen Awards 2018 - Civic and Cultural Interior - Shortlisted
  • AJ Retrofit Awards 2018 - Listed Building (over £5m) - Shortlisted
  • New London Awards 2018 - Conservation & Retrofit - Winner
  • RIBA Awards 2018 - London Regional Award - Winner
  • BD Architect of the Year Awards 2018 - Public Building Architect of the Year - Shortlisted
  • BD Architect of the Year Awards 2018 - Interior Architect of the Year - Shortlisted
  • Civic Trust Awards 2018 - Regional - Commendation


Our restoration and renovation of Hackney Town Hall avoids the embodied carbon cost of a new building and carefully re-uses the existing building, taking opportunities to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions.

Through careful space planning the staff occupancy has been increased by approx. 70%. Previously unused rooms have been utilised and new spaces created within the original footprint, including two 250sqm atria, council print shop and catering kitchens. The architectural interventions and building services are intended to increase the lifespan of the building and reduce waste through efficient user friendly and intelligent controls, high efficiency technologies, durable and ease to maintain materials, refurbished and reused original building fabric.


Our role as lead designer involves the coordination with many disciplines such as mechanical, electrical, structural, lighting and AV specialists. The design for the more technically challenging aspects such as the new ETFE roofs has involved close collaboration with the specialist sub-consultants.

Regular site visits with the Contractor throughout the construction phases monitor the quality of works and seek to resolve any queries or make improvements as required. Changes from which are managed under a change control procedure.

As part of London Borough of Hackney’s policies, they seek to employ local Hackney labour through the main contractor where ever possible and the numbers are provided with the contractors reports.

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