Henley Halebrown - 98-100 De Beauvoir Road, vibrant and practical workspaces in North London
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98-100 De Beauvoir Road, vibrant and practical workspaces in North London

Henley Halebrown

Renovation  /  Completed
Henley Halebrown

Our former factories and industrial spaces are prime candidates for retrofit as part of wider schemes of conversion into office use. Adaptive reuse of such fabric can dramatically improve the economic, environmental and social sustainability of London’s commercial workspaces. 98-100 De Beauvoir Road illustrates how the reuse of existing buildings, allied to simple construction techniques, the employment of long-lasting materials, and a nuanced understanding of the community and the market, can add up to a more sustainable future for offices.

98-100 De Beauvoir Road forms part of a range of early Twentieth Century industrial buildings immediately west of De Beauvoir Square, and its listed Neo-Jacobean houses, in De Beauvoir Town, an area of London planned after the Grand Union Canal and Kingsland Basin were cut in the 1820s. This part of London is a predominantly residential area, so we emphasised the sociality of the architecture at 98-100 De Beauvoir Road ensuring that the remodelled buildings are more than just a space to work but also one where people can readily meet and get to know one another.

This low carbon retrofit scheme retains much of the fabric and embodied energy in the brickwork, timber floors, cast iron and concrete structures. An exemplar of the circular economy, the existing roof timbers in No. 100 were reused and the roof boards from the partial demolition of No. 98 were repurposed as flooring for the additional storey. All the new brickwork uses reclaimed bricks. The rooftop extension is a lightweight structure using recyclable steelwork and FSC/PEFC certified timber. The vast improvement in the thermal performance of the building envelope through insulation and air tightness has reduced the requirement for heating or cooling, alongside high levels of natural light and ventilation.

Until recently the calm brick facades of 98-100 De Beauvoir Road concealed a morass of building, the result of more than a century of accretions and alterations. Our project reshapes space and circulation both inside and out to create a small campus of studio workspaces. The design establishes a pair of interlocking courtyards removed from the street by a sequence – forecourt, covered passage, courtyard – that reorientates occupants to these quieter outdoor “rooms”. In each of the buildings a new staircase has been made, one in 98 a construction, the other in 100, a careful destruction that takes its cue from the Anarchitecture of the artist Gordon Matta-Clark. Into the larger court, a loggia extends the horizontal circulation on the upper floors, establishing a habitable threshold between inside and out, and an alternative route to and from the roof. A new storey has been added to both. At 98, a new glazed steel and timber structure is protected from the low sun to the west by a precast white concrete loggia. On the roof of 100, a new pavilion frames a narrow court facing south and the City. Inside, the enfilade of spaces around the court are characterised by their expressed timber structure and, outside, these repeating volumes are wrapped in black EPDM rubber. Lasting qualities of building traditions have been transferred to contemporary architecture and the craft-based low-tech building techniques employed indicate how elementary the construction of an office could be.

“We are extremely proud to see the business hub we have created at 98-100 De Beauvoir Road recognised for its architectural brilliance. "It is our aim to provide vibrant and practical workspaces in which businesses are encouraged to thrive as part of the regeneration of De Beauvoir Town, breathing new life into the former industrial spaces whilst respecting the local aesthetic and rich history.” Edward Benyon, Estate Manager

Credits

 London
 United Kingdom
 The Benyon Estate
 Workspace
 03/2022
 2487 mq
 Confidential
 Henley Halebrown
 Francesca Bailey, Elina Dueker, Gavin Hale-Brown, Simon Henley, Neil Rogers
 Sullivan Brothers Construction
 Structural Engineer: Parmarbrook Limited; Civil Engineer: Parmarbrook Limited; Building Services Engineer: AJ Energy; Interiors (office fit out): Sella Concept (100 De Beauvoir Road); Quantity Surveyor: Castle-Davis (98 De Beauvoir Road)/Richard Collis (100 De Beauvoir Road); Principal Designer: Quoin; Planning Consultant: CMA Planning; Approved Inspector: Building Control Approval Ltd; Party Wall Surveyor: Hamiltons Chartered Surveyors
 Precast Concrete Stair & Columns: Amber Precast Group; Steelwork: Fleming Fabrications; Balustrades: Total Metals Works; External Timber Doors & Windows: JCK Joinery; External Metal Glazing: REA Metal Windows Ltd; EPDM Covering: AAC Waterproofing Ltd
 Nick Kane; David Grandorge

Curriculum

Established in 1995, we have evolved into a practice completing education, healthcare, residential, commercial and arts buildings as well as “adaptive reuse” projects. We were named Healthcare Architect of the Year in 2008, Public Building Architect of the Year in 2011 and Housing Architect of the Year in 2021. Chadwick Hall and Hackney New Primary School & 333 Kingsland Road were shortlisted for the RIBA Stirling Prize in 2018 and 2022, respectively.

Each building we make is carefully planned to reflect its social logic. Anthropology and psychology also play a part in this. Whilst good buildings help support the community they serve, poor ones can undermine it. We do not strive for novelty but instead continuity. Working sometimes with existing structures we have developed a respect for historic building types and construction. This translates into the way we plan, make and detail our buildings. Here, analogy plays an important part in their conception and communication.

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