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FIRST LOOK

The Modern House moves into new home designed by TDO architecture

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The office facilitates the company’s growth to a team of more than 20, while functioning as a flexible events space for its expanding cultural programme

The 231m² workspace occupies the ground floor of St Alphege Hall in Southwark, London. This mid-rise brick building, dating from 1931, was built for the congregation of St Alphege on Lancaster Street but has suffered neglect since the demolition of the church.

TDO’s ‘low-cost, light-touch’ renovation makes a series of simple insertions into the original building. The plan comprises two double-height halls, the smaller of which is fitted with a mezzanine, and ancillary spaces including a meeting room, kitchen, dining space and server room.

Tdo tmh deskdemount landscape

Tdo tmh deskdemount landscape

At the centre of the scheme in the main open-plan studio is a specially designed demountable desk structure. This can be easily rearranged or folded away and hung up around the perimeter of the space, transforming its function and use. The desk templates were developed through 3D modelling and fabricated in Valchromat off-site by Tom Graham Workshop. Potted plants hang overhead, suspended from a metal grid affixed to the ceiling.

The scheme uses a monochrome palette reflecting The Modern House branding: with the retained fabric, doorways and frames given an off-white finish while new fixtures, fittings, loose furniture and ironmongery are in black. At the entrance, a large gloss black front door and black-tiled steps mark the point of arrival.

Architect’s view

At TDO small-scale projects like this one are crucial for testing ideas and materials. As a practice we are interested in simple forms and intersecting geometries, and this project presented an opportunity to reconfigure simple sheet material into a bespoke and playful interior. Our close proximity to site has meant that we could be very engaged in the build process, which is important to us in achieving a design of lasting value.

Tom Lewith, director, TDO architecture

Client’s view

The Modern House is expanding rapidly, and we had outgrown our previous workspace in Islington. We were attracted to the utilitarian nature of this building, with its original Crittall windows and high ceilings, and saw this as an opportunity to strip it back to its shell and allow it to breathe again. Our move into this building marks an important change for The Modern House; it gives us a physical manifestation of the brand with space which allows us to invite our community in for talks, parties and exhibitions. It also enables us to optimise our company culture, with things like team yoga classes, dinners and film screenings. Hopefully it gives our team a home to be proud of.

TDO is a practice establishing a name for itself, and we were very keen to work with them on the project. We have a good rapport and it has been a rewarding collaboration for us.

Matt Gibberd, director, The Modern House

1853 desks

The Modern House office by TDO

Project data

Start on site November 2017
Completion March 2018  
Gross internal floor area 231m²
Procurement Traditional
Architect TDO architecture
Construction cost £100,000 (building works only, excludes desks)
Construction cost per m² £433
Contractor Candor Construction
Desk fabricator Tom Graham Workshop
CAD software used Vectorworks, Rhino (for the desks) 

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