- Original design
- Morris+Company, 2016
The 2018 programme is now past. We will be launching the 2019 programme mid-August.
The Loom is the refurbishment of a Grade II listed, former Victorian wool storage warehouse in Whitechapel, to deliver a workspace with extra cultural activities.
The scheme provides over 100,000ft2 of workspace, reception, art space, café, cycle stores and showers, as well as the relocation of the main entrance and an exhibition space for the Metropolitan University (CASS).
The scheme seeks to explore and reveal the Grade II listed building’s history, whilst introducing carefully crafted interventions that breathe new life into the building.
The rich history of Whitechapel, the Whitechapel Art Gallery and CASS University have provided strong creative influence in the area. This along with the emerging Goodman’s Fields masterplan has seen Tech start-ups and creative industries moving to the area, along with bars and cafes, to create one of London’s emerging creative quarters.
An important consideration for the relocation of the main entrance to the cobbled Gowers Walk was to refocus the building towards Goodman’s Fields, and to bring a new identity to the building and its surroundings. A new ‘walk’ is created through the centre of the plan, linking the cobbled street of Gowers Walk to the quieter Back Church Lane, the original entrance.
Our design approach is intrinsically linked to a deep understanding of the building’s history. Working closely with a Historian and Tower Hamlets Conservation Officers, the scheme carefully peels back the layers of history and cycle of re-use, whilst introducing carefully considered and highly crafted insertions that resonate with the buildings history. Whilst also creating a environment that can meet the ambitions for workspace in this new emerging creative quarter of London.
The scheme provides a range of much needed space for start-ups and new businesses, requiring a mix of different sized, flexible units. In addition, the project provides a breakout space for meetings and the opportunity for cross-pollination of companies in the building. Perhaps the most visible and interesting space to accommodate this is the café and bar intended for building users and the local community - enhancing the sense of place and destination.
The brief required the building to remain in occupation throughout the course of the works. Careful consideration had to be given to the phasing strategy at an early stage so the building could continue to function. A traditional procurement route ensured greater control over the successful management of cost, quality and programme.
A painstaking exercise of peeling back the accumulated layers of additions was undertaken during the design period to determine how much of the existing brickwork could be exposed, revealing the scars of the building history.
The selection of new materials to be used in the building was carefully considered to work with the existing brickwork and reference the buildings industrial heritage. Internally a calm and limited palette of materials consisting of raw new & blue steel, polished concrete and wood wool creates harmony with the external appearance of the building.
Woven metalwork screens create a narrative which threads it way throughout the building, forming the 4m high sliding entrance gates to Gowers Walk, the soaring balustrades to the atrium and new stairs connecting the floors within the units.
The design is a contemporary interpretation of a loom, reimagined in highly crafted new & blue steel. As well as performing functional uses and security, the screens create a new identity for the building.
Stuart Patience, an illustrator and animator based in London, was commissioned to develop a piece of art that would resonate with both the building’s heritage and engage the creative community, creating fun and delight.