The Record Hall is the reimagining of an outmoded industrial building in Clerkenwell into offices and studios for a wide variety of small- and medium-sized businesses. The project demonstrates how intelligent design can bring clarity and character to what was a previously complex and incoherent site, and create a place where old and new can not simply co-exist but flourish.
Karakusevic Carson Architects were appointed by Workspace Group to substantially extend and refurbish a 1920s commercial building situated in the Hatton Garden Conservation Area, amongst the narrow streets of Leather Lane. The area around Hatton Garden has been at the centre of the UK’s jewellery trade since medieval times, but it has recently also become home to a diverse range of media and creative businesses. The ambition was to reimagine the space as one that would feel more active, retaining lower-cost workshops for businesses in the jewellery sector that had been there for some time while opening new space for other creative industries.
Formed of two distinct parts, the building is situated in a tight site on a narrow street. Apart from the labyrinthine and run-down interiors, the street-facing elevation felt more like it was the back of something and a large part of the ground floor was occupied by a car park.
Our work was to give the building a new public face and welcoming entrance. By extending outwards to the boundary line we were also able to reorganise the interior with generous and legible circulation around a single large rectangular lightwell. The main entrance to the building was re-located to the centre of the plan to give it a direct visual relationship with the new lightwell.
The stepped profile of the building was used to form a diverse range of workspaces, from small units for jewellery workshops in the basement, ground, and first floors, to medium-sized units around the perimeters of the mid floors defined by the existing structural grid, while large open plan spaces were located on the top two floors. A final addition is located at the upper levels where shared terraces provide rooftop views of the surrounding city. The client’s ambition for buildings that foster collaboration was realised in the design of high quality communal spaces that create opportunities for building users to stop and chat.
The principal aim was to bring clarity and character to the existing complexity and incoherence, both in terms of the spatial organisation and material expression. The primary interventions were threefold: outwards – fronted with a redbrick precast façade onto the street; upwards, with an anodised aluminium cladding; and through – the white glazed brick lining of the new central lightwell.
Precast and off-site production methods were used for the new façade systems which ensured an optimised construction programme. In addition, efficient new building services, the incorporation of high performance insulation to both new and existing elements of fabric and a wildflower green roof have all contributed to the achievement of a BREEAM Excellent rating.
The Record Hall is a subtle piece of architecture that mixes old and new in a way that allows you to glimpse and discover new elements rather than have them shouting for attention. It speaks of pragmatism and innovation, working with the fabric of the area’s history and future whilst contributing to the streetscape of a distinctive and much-loved part of London.
Architect: Karakusevic Carson Architects
Structural Engineer and BREEAM Consultant: Thornton Tomasetti