Planning permission granted for new workplace redevelopment in east London

Witherford Watson Mann Architects has secured planning permission for a new 5,300 sqm (NIA) workplace redevelopment in Hoxton, east London.

Designed for client Workspace 14 Ltd., the project replaces a 1970s workplace considered no longer suitable for contemporary business needs. The new Cremer Business Centre will increase the employment capacity of the site by providing 39 per cent more floorspace for small and startup enterprises. Units range from 20 to 242m2 in size.

The design of the new business centre responds to the industrial vernacular of Shoreditch, and to the materials and rhythms of the Kingsland Road Conservation Area. Located on the corner of Cremer Street and Nazrul Street, the site is bounded by the Overground railway viaduct with the Geffrye Museum to the north. Witherford Watson Mann Architects conceived the new building as a faceted form, moulded by the curves of the viaduct and the Kingsland Road.

The new building will stretch 90 metres in length and will step up from three storeys on Nazrul Street to six storeys alongside the viaduct to the east, where the building will be bordered by a soft landscape. It will be a steel frame structure, with self-supporting brick external walls.

The main material externally is a purple-brown engineering brick used in a variety of bonds to complement the proportions of each elevation. These vary subtly from façade to façade to reflect the different neighbouring conditions and the status of the elevation. The east elevation is horizontal in emphasis in response to the viaduct, with broad brick piers and generous windows. On the west, the elevation is more vertical with shallow piers that echo the rhythm of the neighbouring houses on Kingsland Road.

Business units are arranged along the long east and west sides of the building. Floor to ceiling heights are generous, ranging from 3.3m on the ground floor to 3m on the other levels. A tall, roof-lit light court runs through the centre of the building, with galleries and bridges accessing the units linked by an open stair; the light court also serves as a chimney for stack effect natural ventilation of the individual units. Shared facilities, including a street-front cafe, meeting rooms, kitchens, and informal seating areas are located around the central light-court.

Cremer Business Centre is expected to achieve a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating, assisted by natural ventilation, renewables, and the re-use of existing foundations.

The project builds on the practice’s longstanding interest in the place of work in the city, and in the incremental transformation of former industrial areas. It is a short walk from their first building, the Amnesty International UK headquarters in Shoreditch, completed ten years ago. The practice is also currently exploring options for the extension of the listed Hop Exchange building in Southwark Street for owners Peer Group.

William Mann of Witherford Watson Mann Architects, says:

“Small business centres are fascinating buildings, full of the energy of their very diverse tenants. In the best ones, occupants trade and collaborate with each other a lot. It’s a really engaging challenge to make a building that supports this kind of collective spirit- that’s what we hope the light court will do”

Jamie Hopkins, Chief Executive Officer of Workspace, says:

“Hoxton is a hugely attractive area for our customers and we are excited to have gained planning consent to transform the existing site in the heart of this vibrant area into a new business hub. This demonstrates further progress on the delivery of our strong pipeline of refurbishments, as we continue to focus on growing our portfolio of space for new and growing companies across London.”