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Books in brief - Henley Halebrown Rorrison

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[ARCHITECTS’ MONOGRAPH] The re-emergence of Buschow Henley as Henley Halebrown Rorrison was heralded by this self-titled publication which explores forty selected projects, both past and present

This selection aims to illustrate the quality and focus of work that has emerged from the work of Simon Henley, Gavin Hale-Brown and Ken Rorrison.

The book’s introduction, entitled Building for Society (written in English, German, and Spanish), provides an introspective view of the values instilled within the practice, delivering a thoughtful insight in to the projects that follow. Here, Henley Halebrown Rorrison offer an honest and appealing approach to questions of sustainability, placing an emphasis on achieving a kind of social durability in their work.

Henley Halebrown Rorrison’s talkbackTHAMES office building is a clear example of these preoccupations, using good environmental design as a means of promoting social interaction. The facade of the courtyard has been transformed into a broad, multi-storey cloister where both formal and informal exchanges can take place. Each office is given direct access to this series of communal spaces, which includes a grassy aromatic garden. These richly detailed interventions provide a new focus for the life of the organization.

The work ranges from speculative designs for a 21st century prison, to the adaptive reuse of a Brutalist structure in Brixton, conceived of as an environment which will respond to the disabilities of its existing inhabitants through the use of sensation.

Beautifully photographed, each project is portrayed by a single image, accompanied by a simple outline of the architects’ intentions. The selected works aim to highlight the practice’s respect for a certain level of continuity in its approach to existing structures, which has in turn informed their approach towards its other design work.

‘The Cloisters’ at St. Benedict’s School in Ealing was designed with the early decision that its new halls would be ‘like Russian dolls’. The halls together in plan invoke a cloister at the very centre of the school, with the concrete spaces reflecting those of a monastic culture.

The mixed-use scheme for Union Wharf builds similarly on an existing historic morphology, taking its cue from the surrounding wharfs. It aims to create a new public link between Kingsland Basin and the surrounding streets, modeling itself on the Uffizi in Florence, which adjoins the River Arno.

The self-promotional book thus provides a brief window into the work of Henley Halebrown Rorrison, with a rich series of its award-winning projects.

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