Ken Shuttleworth explains why his practice relocated to an underground car park in central London
‘Back in 2013, we were required to temporarily relocate from our studio on Whitfield Street, following Derwent London’s plans to redevelop and renovate the 55 and 65 Whitfield Street buildings as part of their Charlotte Street scheme – a scheme which Make is also responsible for.
‘The original intention was to return to our premises once the work was complete but we soon realised that, with the company expanding, it was in fact the right time to begin the search for a new home.
‘It was important for us to stay in Fitzrovia, an area in London that Make has been based in since it started up in 2004. With great transport links, plenty of restaurants, bars and shops, and within walking distance to many of our clients, partners and engineers, we still consider it to be the most beneficial and efficient location for us to be in.
‘Of course, given rising rents, we had to be creative with the site and location of our new studio, and moving below ground was certainly a more economical way of getting the space required.
‘I was already familiar with the basement car park of Middlesex House, another property in Derwent’s portfolio, having parked there on occasion. ‘It was a 1,300m2, raw and underused space, and exactly the sort of challenge we like to take on. It was important to maintain the utilitarian, industrial look and feel of the former car park – with exposed services and pipework and retained original features – whilst creating a functional, high-spec studio space which caters for all 171 employees. It is the sort of space that reflects our values as an employee-owned company – no frills and no pretences.
‘Arup very kindly gave us temporary residence on the 5th and 6th floors of their Fitzroy Street offices during the redevelopment, and on the 5th May 2015 our new home was ready for us to move in to.
‘We are incredibly grateful to Derwent for the space. It’s great to be able to put our stamp on our offices, in a way that is representative of who we are and what we do.’