Project name: Archway Studios London UK
Location : Southwark
Completion Period : 2010 – 2012
Project Team:Undercurrent Architects- Didier Ryan, Alessandra Giannotti, Eckersley O’Callaghan Engineers
Photography: Candice Lake
Not only is it a challenge but also an inimitable opportunity for an architect to adaptively reuse infrastructure that might have once been waste or neglected. The structure being dictated by its existing condition leaves the architects with innumerable design constraints. The project outcome should be such that creates a new architectural language without disrupting the originality of its existing context. Only then does the architect stand true to the challenge.
Archway Studios is a live-workspace prototype brought to life by Undercurrent Architects- a London based practice. The structure has been built in and around a 19thC rail viaduct. The design narrows down to a logical solution for all archways spread across the city. The project reflects a fortified yet flexible design emerging harmoniously from its surroundings irrespective of the constraints of an inner-city, industrial site next to a train line.
Regardless of the site being severely constrained due to its tight condition, Undercurrent Architects transform a narrow plot with limited access to light, aspect and views, into an uplifting space.
Due to de-industrialization, there is an abundance of centrally located, vacant brown field arch spaces.
The building’s unique design and appearance gives rise to a bold expression of design even when overshadowed by inner-city neighbors. As one of the 10,000 arches that dominate and dissect neighborhoods across London, Archway Studios is a creative model that can be adapted for broad community benefit and regeneration.
With a notion to reflect the industrial setting, the structure has been wrapped beautifully in weathered corten steel cut. The rusted appearance of corten steel shell gives the structure a solid and strengthened appeal. Corten steel being cut into open slits and in the façade funnels the broad day light into its minimalist white interiors. A large vaulted workshop has been designed under the tracks and has a direct connectivity with the tall atrium that houses residential niches in a bright open space as all windows open out into the southern face along a narrow axis to its existing foliage.
Owing to the site being located alongside a working train track, a detailed attention had to be drawn towards the sound proofing and vibration control. A rubber foundation enables the structure to act independently of the surrounding surfaces. The external wall composed of a series of sheets serves the dual purpose of reducing the noise and structural resonance while at the same time provides the user with an internal comfort from within. A six millimeter outermost layer supported over a steel rib, packed with fibre matting acoustic insulation makes the studio structurally independent of the inner wall construction.
The modest scale of the project and material usage makes Archway Studios a constant element of attraction in the public realm. In addition to this, the design addresses a chain of climatic, acoustic and contextual factors in the most minimalist yet brilliant manner.
Didier Ryan (Principal Architect Undercurrent Architects)