Plans by John Pardey Architects for the housing-led redevelopment of a Walter Gropius-designed film laboratory in Buckinghamshire have been unveiled by the site’s new owner Weston Homes
The architect has been working on the overhaul of the Denham Film Laboratories for various developers for the last decade.
Bauhaus School founder Gropius created the main building – now one of only four remaining structures by the architect left in the UK – in conjunction with Maxwell Fry, of London-based practice Adams Thompson & Fry. The three-storey Art Deco building, which was completed in 1936 and given a Grade II listing in 1985, is said to have been inspired by the Isokon Apartment Building in Highgate, where Gropius lived after fleeing Nazi Germany in 1934.
Exterior of Denham Studios Film Labs building
The Pardey scheme will deliver 49 apartments in Gropius’s laboratory building, at the same time as retaining one of two screening cinemas and a grand Art Deco staircase at the concrete building.
A further 175 new homes will be provided in three four-storey apartment buildings and avenues of three and four-storey terraced housing at the 4.83ha site.
Commissioned by film mogul Alexander Korda, the original building was Europe’s largest film-processing plant for decades, and was located next to Denham Film Studios, which produced 1930s and 1940s classics including Goodbye Mr Chips, In Which We Serve, and Laurence Olivier’s Henry V.
While the studios closed in the 1950s, the processing plant continued to operate until 2014. Films produced and edited on site include Star Wars, Alien, ET, Eyes Wide Shut and a host of Bond titles.
Public art set to be installed as part of the redevelopment will include 1.6m by 4m glass plates etched with scenes from famous films connected with Denham.
John Pardey was originally commissioned to design the scheme by the Rank Organisation, which owned the lab. The site was subsequently sold to Bloor Homes, and recently bought by Weston Homes. The practice won various consents over an almost 10-year span.
Pardey said the project was ’one of the best resi schemes we have been involved in’.
Bob Weston, chairman and chief executive officer of Weston Homes, said the firm’s vision was to create ‘an Art Deco and movie-nspired residential address within easy commuting distance of London’.