The Loom is a RIBA National Award Winning workplace, and comprises of a major renovation to a grade 2 listed building in Whitechapel, London, for Helical Bar. The building, once a wool storage warehouse, was converted unsympathetically into offices in the 1980's. 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.
The brief called for the refurbishment of over 100,000ft2 of workspace, reception, art space, a new café, the provision of cycle stores and shower facilities, as well as the relocation of the main entrance, to bring a new identity to the building. The scheme aimed to explore the building’s history, whilst also introducing new interventions to meet the requirements of a modern commercial building in London.
The design of the woven metal screen, at the new entrance, is a contemporary interpretation of a loom, reimagined in highly crafted new & blue steel. As well as performing the more prosaic function of concealing and venting the numerous existing substation grilles and bin stores and securing the building at night, the screens create a new identity for the building.
Sourcing the bricks from within the building was a sustainable decision that not only reduced the need for new bricks but minimised the amount of demolition material sent to landfill. The variations in colour and texture of the existing brick lends to its charm, stitching the new interventions into the fabric of the building. Building Regulations, cycle/shower/locker/drying room provision designed in line with BREEAM requirements.
Working closely with the nearby Metropolitan University (CASS), exhibition space has been created in the ‘walk’ and reception areas. Creating a testbed for the students and an opportunity to create a relationship between the buildings users and the rich creative work taking place at the CASS.