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The White Building

Once a disused print works, now a multifunctional studio and events space with views of the Olympic Park. Distinctive features include nets of sheep wool suspended from ceilings, a restaurant and brewery.

Architect

David Kohn Architects

Date

2012

Unit 7 Queens Yard, White Post Lane E9 5EN

Sat tour led by David Kohn at 2pm.

Hackney Wick

339, 276

  • Architect on site
  • Access for wheelchair users
  • Regularly open to the public at no charge

THE WHITE BUILDING _The White Building_ is a new cultural venue in Hackney Wick commissioned by the London Legacy Development Corporation. Formerly part of Clarnico sweet factory and then a printworks, this derelict warehouse was refurbished and converted into a new cultural centre in the heart of Hackney Wick, located on the canal opposite the Olympic Park. Won in an invited competition, this publicly-funded project provides a range of facilities for the local community including new and affordable studio space for artists and small businesses, a caf‚ and microbrewery with canalside seating, upgraded public realm, a flexible event space offering stunning views of the Olympic Stadium and gallery space.The competition was organised by Design for London as part of the _Olympic Fringe_, a suite of small-scale projects aimed at stitching the Olympic Park into the surrounding city fabric. In response to the brief, David Kohn Architects proposed that the White Building would be a venue that:- Is built by local people for local people – Foregrounds the pleasures of making – Resonates with the history of the area – Works with the existing building fabric – Demonstrates innovative sustainable design- Is realised affordably and quickly- Shows a past and future London at the Olympics.The end-user tenant is SPACE Studios, an arts and education charity that has been providing platforms for artists since 1968. SPACE were involved in all stages of the project, contributing to the brief and design process, and they will now run the building on behalf of the Legacy Company. The ground floor pizzeria and microbrewery will be run by CRATE, a local business who also own the nearby Counter Caf‚.Local trades were used extensively in the building work, providing materials and skills such as glazing and sign-painting, steelwork and joinery. The project was delivered on time and budget.New interventions complement the existing building fabric, such as blockwork walls on the ground floor that incorporate steel-framed windows. The ground floor was opened up to the canalside and Queen_s Yard to create a light-filled interior with the feel of an urban courtyard.On the first floor, existing red-painted steel trusses support an existing asbestos sheet roof with no insulation. In order to improve the environmental performance of the building and the appearance of the interiors without interfering with the asbestos, sheep_s wool insulation was suspended in red string nets to create soft vaults between the trusses.Throughout, there was a design approach that sought to use conventional construction materials, but in a playful way. Material junctions were detailed in such a way as to give even the most industrial construction a lightness of touch.Five new entrances were created that allow the building to be used in a variety of different configurations, and external works included connecting the canalside to White Post Lane with new wide steps doubling up as auditorium seating.Space Studios currently have a ten year lease on the property. The hope is that during that time, The White Building can become a significant local asset, well-used by the creative community and public alike. If it proves successful, then the project could become key to retaining cultural activities in the area in the context of urban change and future development.