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Morris+Company takes over Huntingdon estate job in Shoreditch


Morris+Company has become the latest architect to take on the redevelopment of the Huntingdon industrial estate site opposite Shoreditch High Street station

Robin Partington Architects [now Apt] and Amanda Levete had previously drawn up separate schemes for the City fringe plot close to AHMM’s Tea Building and the emerging Bishopsgate Goodsyard development.

Bankrolled by the site’s then developer, Londonewcastle, both schemes came in for heavy criticism from local groups. Levete’s 23-storey twisting tower was thrown out by Tower Hamlets in 2012 while Partington’s 14-storey stepped-back proposal was eventually approved on appeal in 2015, though it was never built.

The new nine-storey £56 million proposal by Morris+Company is being backed by Blue Coast Capital, a property investment company chaired by River Island boss Clive Lewis.

The 29,268m² office-led project in Bethnal Green Road, which has now been submitted to Tower Hamlets Council, is being billed as a ‘modern interpretation of Shoreditch’s robust warehouse typology’.

Divided into four volumes, the scheme includes 1,400m² of workshops ’to meet the demand for affordable workspace for emerging enterprises’ and more than 1,000 m² of ‘communal amenity space’.

A planning decision on the project is expected before the end of the year.

Morris and co huntingdon estate shoreditch submitted plans 2020 interior basement

Morris+Co huntingdon estate shoreditch submitted plans 2020 interior basement

Architect’s view

Architecturally, the scheme will weave into its context to complement the eclectic nature of Shoreditch, home to a diverse range of building typologies. The proposal therefore mediates between, and responds to, various contextual constraints and opportunities of the site and the surrounding area.

The site is located at an intersection between varying urban scales and character. To the south is the larger scale of the City of London, which we see extending northward with the emerging Bishopsgate Goodsyard scheme. To the west, a character of mid-scale buildings and city blocks prevails, with characteristic streets defining their presence. To the north of the site lies the finer grain of the Redchurch Street and Boundary Estate Conservation areas.

The context comprises a rich mixture of architectural styles, materials and finishes that contribute towards the unique character of the area. There is also a significant street art culture visible in a range of vibrant and everchanging layering of graffiti and poster art across buildings and street furniture.

This project celebrates Shoreditch referencing the durable and robust warehouse typology

The proposals will knit into Shoreditch’s mix and diversity of uses, helping to extend and enhance the vitality of the streets in this immediate area. The proposal comprises affordable workspace and start-up spaces, larger office uses for the creative industries, and active ground floor retail units. The scheme will be connected to the wider city through the major artery of Bethnal Green Road and the respective public transportation routes this offers.

The proposal will encourage greater local connectivity through the building, allowing movement and interchange between the site and nearby enterprises – notably those of Redchurch Street, Brick Lane, and Spitalfields.

This project celebrates Shoreditch, referencing the durable and robust warehouse typology, and drawing upon a century of working with this noble stock through contemporary means of construction and use.

We have focused on responding to the texture and grain of the immediate streetscape and the wider city panoramas. The resultant scheme proposes a broken rhythm of four volumes, staggered in plan and height, such that the specific conditions along its elevations can be tuned to the immediate and specific city conditions which they face.

The massing and composition has evolved through a rigorous and extensive iterative methodology, arriving at a form that fits the brief whilst working with the context and enhancing the setting. The developing concept creates what appears to be a family of blocks arranged together to form a cohesive whole. Each block is sized to respond to the scale and massing of its surrounding context.

The staggering of blocks, ranging from smaller-scale towards the north of the site facing Redchurch Street, progressively grow in scale as they reach the south of the site facing Bethnal Green Road. Alongside these massing principles, material choices and façade proportions also vary in scale and selection to respond to the existing street elevations which they face. A 9m-wide central variation in façade expression ties these four blocks together and is punctuated with terraces within the 3m setback, breaking down each elevation.

The secondary massing blocks towards Redchurch Street align to existing parapet heights, and set back as they grow to minimise the impact on the Redchurch Street Conservation Area. These smaller volumes are pitched to create an identity harmonious to the smaller-grain buildings north of the site.

The site is surrounded by four Conservation Areas; Boundary Estate, Redchurch Street, Fournier Street and Elder Street Conservation Areas. The site itself has an elaborate history referenced through narratives layered into the façade treatment.

Morris and co huntingdon estate shoreditch submitted plans 2020 models

Morris + Company’s office-led proposals for the Huntingdon estate in Shoreditch, east London - plans submitted 2020. Scheme development models

Scheme development models


Built from a simple palette of brick and stone, as a direct contextual response, it is intended that the building will remain relevant, functional and desirable in a hundred years’ time, and sufficiently robust and flexible to accommodate the changing user needs, as much of Shoreditch has done to date.

Through taxonometric studies of the contextual grain, the scheme expresses the layering, proportions, and ordering of the locale.

As well as the Grade II-listed The Owl & Pussycat public house, which sits as a pocket outside of the site boundary, the adjacent 30-32 Redchurch Street, whilst not listed, represents a prime example of 19th century architecture in their elevations, and as such are positive contributors to the Conservation Area.

The proposals provide an opportunity to conserve and enhance the unique street presence of these buildings through carefully considered architectural interventions.

Morris and co huntingdon estate shoreditch submitted plans 2020 redchurch street and tea

Morris+Company’s office-led proposals for the Huntingdon estate in Shoreditch, east London - plans submitted 2020. Redchurch Street view with Tea Building to right

Redchurch Street view with Tea Building to right


Project data

Client Blue Coast Capital
Architect and lead designer Morris+Company
Principal designer Morris+Company
Cost consultant Alinea Consulting
Planning consultant DP9
Townscape and Heritage consultant KM Heritage
Public engagement Kanda Consulting
Structural engineer AKT II
Facade consultant Eckersley O’Callaghan
Services engineer Scotch & Partners
BREEAM consultant Scotch & Partners
Workplace strategy consultant KKS Strategy
Environmental impact assessor Waterman Infrastructure & Env
Fire specialist Olsson Fire and Risk
Approved inspector Butler & Young
Daylight and sunlight consultant Gordon Ingram Associates
Traffic and transport consultants Motion
Waste Strategy  Aecom
Plans submitted  March 2020
Start on site  TBC
Gross internal area  29,268m²
Net internal area  21,422m²
Procurement  Design and Build
Construction cost circa £56 million



Readers' comments (2)

  • This certainly provides a welcome tonic to the all too common sight of the gigantic, glass-clad, fish-bowl, speculative office typology, common in most other boroughs of London these days. Part Florentine palazzo, part Victorian and Edwardian warehouse, part MoCo flair, this redevelopment hopes to repair and restore a timeless robust character of Shoreditch that may have lost its way in recent times.

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  • Very kind words from the MoCo employee above on his own companies work... I have always thought that Shoreditch needs more Florentine palatial architecture

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