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FIRST LOOK

TateHindle reclads 1970s office in Clerkenwell with large-format ceramic tiles

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The £8.4 million refurbishment creates naturally lit, spacious office space for Macmillan Publishers

Based in one of London’s creative quarters, the redevelopment has been branded The Smithson to acknowledge Clerkenwell’s industrial history. Originally comprising two separate buildings with a connecting block that straddles the site, the development was previously refurbished and extended in 2001.

This time, the seven-storey building has been reclad on the facade facing Briset Street – which has been extended at ground-floor level and existing framed glazing replaced with larger, slender profiled windows – creating a new entrance presence and double-height reception with level access. The use of large-format ceramic tiles for the cladding system creates a proportioned and formal front to the double-sided building.

9a th thesmithson dirklindner 1656

9a th thesmithson dirklindner 1656

To improve natural light levels and efficiency of space, the interior has been reconfigured, with three lightwells infilled to increase overall usable space. Inspired by a crafted industrial aesthetic, a palette of existing and new materials includes concrete, steel, oak and ceramic tiles. The existing curved glulam beams on the fifth floor have been retained. In addition, the secondary entrance on St John’s Square has been widened to include a hidden stair lift for level access.

Architect’s view

Working on The Smithson gave us an opportunity to create maximum impact with a modest budget. We transformed the building’s presence on the narrow street by recladding and rationalising the facade using ultra-thin, large-format ceramic tiles which are typically used throughout Europe, but less so here. We undertook in-depth research and worked closely with the manufacturer to customise their use, developing the fixings and bespoke junction details. Although the product is already available on the market here, this is the first time the tiles are used in this context in the UK.

One of the simplest changes, however, makes the most fundamental difference to tenants’ wellbeing – relocating the existing washrooms away from windows to the core maximises the space and natural daylight, creating spacious, well-organised and light-filled office floors, all of which are high on tenants’ wish list for their ideal working environment. We have pushed the CAT A brief as far as possible with connecting staircases and voids between floors to help create a workplace designed with interaction in mind.

Sarah Brown, director, TateHindle

Th the smithson ground floor plan

Th the smithson ground floor plan

Client’s view

The Smithson occupies an enviable position close to Farringdon station, which will be the only station in London where London Underground, Crossrail, National Rail and Thames Link intersect. Crossrail will dramatically improve the connectivity of Farringdon and this improvement in infrastructure has resulted in a surge of interest in the location. Securing Macmillan Publishers as the anchor tenant is testament to the architectural design of the building and innovative configuration of the space which appealed to Macmillan’s desire for a creative and collaborative office environment.

Angy Benitz, portfolio manager, Savills Investment Management

Th the smithson location plan

Th the smithson location plan

Project data

Start on site August 2017
Completion date September 2018
Gross internal floor area 5,677m²
Form of contract Design & Build
Construction cost £8.4 million
Construction cost per m£1,480
Architect TateHindle
Client Charities Property Fund
Client representative Savills Investment Management
Structural engineer Davies Maguire
M&E consultant Watkins Payne
QS Fanshawe
Acoustic consultant Clarke Saunders
Project manager Savills
CDM coordinator Flood Partnership
Approved building inspector Head Projects
Main contractor Collins
Rights of light consultant Point 2 Surveyors
CAD software used MicroStation

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