Southwark’s strategic location across the City and still relatively industrial setting provided the right opportunity for investigating the fusion of work and living. Here, a row of disused warehouses was re-imagined, with artisan commercial units at the ground level and residential dwellings above. This arrangement followed a gradual and logical vertical progression toward the uppermost private space: a contemporary penthouse.
There were many considerations to take into account. Primarily, how to maintain the authenticity of the original Victorian façade and rough character of the building? Secondly was how to create a living environment in a quintessentially urban area—under a plane path, over a train track and facing a petrol station?
The answer lay in opening up the space to the different, outer realities of Southwark with windows on both sides that give the impression of being outdoors but with a roof above your head, both insular and open at the same time. The light at this point becomes essential, both as a source of illumination and as a play with shadows.
The installation of terraces on different levels allow for planting, which gain in importance in a dry, urban context, allows for the best of both worlds: vertical living with a garden.
The commercial unit at the ground and lower-ground level was again designed with the idea of creating a private space that interacts with its environment, through the slicing of a double-heighted gallery that gives it a semi-public character. Here again, plants and natural light are emphasized and used to modulate the space: the floor above, used as a graphic and web design office, is fully clad and louvered, allowing for control of the light for computer screens and video equipment.