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TDO unveils plans for £18.5m revamp of historic Southwark yard

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Architecture studio TDO has revealed its designs for the £18.5 million office-led redevelopment and retrofit of an inner-city block in Southwark, south London

The scheme at Great Suffolk Yard, which has now started on site, includes the retention and revamp of a trio of former industrial buildings, some dating from the 1850s, and the addition of four new blocks built around a central yard.

As part of the 7,623m² commercial project, three existing structures will be pulled down and replaced: the Carriageway Building; the Engineering Building; and the Pickwick Building

Approved by Southwark Council, the development is backed by locally based developer Tailored Living Solutions, which, until this scheme, has worked predominantly on housing projects (see client interview below).

The proposals for the plot in the Liberty of the Mint conservation area will, the practice claims, ‘repurpose the block as a family of buildings [preserving] its eclectic character and historic patina’.

A TDO spokesperson said: ‘The client brief required a contemporary commercial development which offered the flexibility to be let either as a single building or to multiple tenants, with a 1:6 or 1:8 capacity.

‘This presented a tension between the requirement of the plan – to provide connected open plan floor space – and the elevations and character of the site, which called for conserving a family of distinct buildings.’

They added: ‘Floorplates have been designed to create a clear sequence of spaces across the site, so that the buildings can be occupied by a single tenant or multiple tenants.’

Tdo gsy model crop

Tdo gsy model crop

Project data

Location 127-131 Great Suffolk Street, London SE1
Local authority Southwark
Type of project Commercial workspace
Client Tailored Living Solutions
Architect TDO
Planning consultant JTS Partership
Structural engineer Axiom
M&E consultant QuinnRoss
Quantity surveyor and project manager Cast
CDM adviser Havio
Main contractor RI Design and Build
Funder: BentallGreenOak
Tender date March 2020
Start on site March 2020
Completion Autumn/winter 2021
Contract duration 24 months
Gross internal floor area 7,623m²
Form of contract Design and Build
Annual CO2 emissions n/a until built
Total cost £18.5 million
Visualisations Darcstudio and TDO

Tdo grat suffolk ground floor plan

Ground floor plan

Ground floor plan

Client interview: Josh Chadd, managing director, Tailored Living Solutions

This is a departure from your usual residential work – why have you taken on this scheme?
We’re not wedded to a particular typology: we aspire to create buildings which respond to their environment. We were initially attracted to Great Suffolk Yard because of its Bankside location, an historically industrial area which has seen its raw and gritty heritage finessed to meet the requirements of today’s commercial market.

The scheme develops a collection of under-utilised warehouse buildings, bringing their industrial heritage back to life and improving it to suit the demands and ensure the wellbeing of the modern workforce.

As we began to research the historical uses of the property we discovered group of creators and makers had occupied the original buildings, which we feel parallels the creators, makers and innovators of today. We hope they will enjoy the improved workspaces that we are delivering.

What new ideas do you think you can bring to office development?
Integrating technology and sustainable measures is always at the core of our developments. At Great Suffolk Yard the retention of the buildings’ heritage is fundamental to the design, and from that platform we have created a scheme which integrates digital infrastructure and smart automation to meet current and future business needs. The design targets a BREEAM Excellent rating for both the refurbished and new build elements of the scheme, and we have developed the design to deliver a WELL Building Standard scheme, focusing on the health and wellbeing of the occupiers.

Are you having to tweak any of the designs becasue of the coronavirus crisis?
While it is too soon to fully appreciate the impact of coronavirus on the modern workplace, it has reinforced our efforts to ensure the scheme provides a high quality of accommodation focusing on health and wellbeing. The design decisions made to achieve BREEAM and WELL accreditation has ensured we are delivering high air quality through both natural and mechanical ventilation, something which is likely to be much higher on the agenda moving forward.

How and why did you chose TDO for this job?
Having worked with the practice before, we approached them because of their expertise in creating new-build developments that are responsive to local heritage and conservation, and sensitive to retain that history and context within the architecture for the new buildings and additions to existing buildings.

What are you looking for in an architect?
The skills to tailor a design to the unique opportunities and constraints of an individual scheme. Our aim is to ensure that every development we deliver is responsive to the local neighbourhood and to the people who will occupy it.

What don’t you want?
The design process requires collaborative thinking and the architect’s role within the design team is key to ensuring a co-ordinated approach is achieved to deliver high-quality buildings.

What projects do you have coming up?
Alongside Great Suffolk Yard we’ve a number of mixed-use developments currently in construction. Our residential-led development at Greenwich High Road completes soon, another collaboration with TDO, which combines white concrete and brickwork that brings a rigour to the high street. We’ve integrated a smart home automation system and fibre connectivity in each apartment, creating a future-proofed home for first-time buyers. 


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