This project, for a real-estate office seeking a distinctive contemporary presence, included the restoration of a historic double-bay Edwardian commercial building and the addition of a contemporary structure to the rear. The materials and forms were selected to clearly delineate old from new.
The existing building had suffered from many years of neglect. Its previous incarnation was as a fast-food bar, necessitating the removal of layers of additions and surfaces to take the building back to the original. All that remained was the bones of the structure in concrete and brickwork to allow the provision of an adaptable open-plan office space.
The brickwork was repointed and the building structurally upgraded, with the use of internally exposed steel portal frames becoming a key design element. The addition was designed to contrast with and complement the existing building. It is made up of two distinct elements – a plywood-lined, folded metal form creates the party wall and roof, with full height steel joinery dematerialising the interior/exterior boundary. A more closed and intimate zinc-clad box is inserted into this form to serve as a separate meeting space.
Glass roof elements were used to separate the old and the new. A concrete and timber stair wraps around a steel-clad wall leading to the open-plan offices of the upper level.
The full-height steel bi-fold joinery opening to the courtyard relates to the proportions of the existing windows and doors, while a new concrete floor throughout the ground level unifies the scheme and flows directly to the exterior, where a simple and formal landscape scheme reinforces the essential classical nature of both the existing Edwardian building and the modernist addition.