The Institution has its headquarters in Bastwick Street, London, part of the Clerkenwell area: a thriving location home to a wonderful array of creative businesses and architects. Clerkenwell Design Week showcases the leading UK and international brands based in the area, and to mark the occasion, we pick out five of our favourite Clerkenwell Structures, all a short walk from our Bastwick Street HQ.
St John’s Gate
A ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ remnant of Clerkenwell’s monastic history, St John’s Gate is set back from the Clerkenwell Road. Built in 1504 by Prior Thomas Docwra as the south entrance to the inner precinct of the Priory of the Knights of Saint John - the substructure is of brick, the north and south façades of stone. Heavily restored in the 19th century, the Gate today is in large part a Victorian recreation.
The structure has a fascinating history as the workplace of Samuel Johnson and childhood home of the painter William Hogarth, as well as being used for many years as a tavern.
Spa Green Estate
To the north of Bastwick Street, between Rosebery Avenue and St John St, is Spa Green Estate - the most complete realisation of a radical plan for social regeneration through Modernist architecture, in this case by Berthold Lubetkin. His declaration ‘Nothing is too good for ordinary people’ is still the motto of the Estate.
Ove Arup used innovative concrete box-frame or 'egg-crate' construction, giving each flat clear views and interiors uncluttered by beams, columns, or pipes, while his aerodynamic 'wind-roofs' and open terraces provided a communal area for drying clothes and social gathering.
Minister of Health Aneurin Bevan laid the foundation stone in July 1946. It received a Grade II* listing and a major 2008 restoration brought back the original colour scheme, which recalls Russian Constructivism.
St Luke’s Church
East of Bastwick Street is this Grade I listed Hawksmoor church. It was closed in 1964 after subsidence made it unsafe, and lay empty for some time. The roof was removed two years later for safety reasons and the shell became a ruin for 40 years, overgrown with trees.
It was finally converted for the London Symphony Orchestra as a concert hall and rehearsal space. The conversion installed a heavy concrete slab roof which keeps out traffic noise, its great weight supported on tall, ‘tree like’ steel columns. The interior acoustic can be varied for different events using absorbent surfaces that unroll like blinds across the ceiling and down the walls.
To the west, Farringdon station is undergoing a major redevelopment to increase capacity, improve accessibility and upgrade interchanges as part of the building of Crossrail. Two new ticket halls are connected by underground 250 meter platforms, 30 metres below ground. The western end located on the corner of Farringdon Road and Cowcross Street will provide access to and from the Thameslink ticket hall. The eastern end is bound by Charterhouse Street, Lindsey Street and Long Lane.
When the Elizabeth line Farringdon station opens in 2018 it will be a major new landmark for the area and one of the busiest stations in the UK, connecting with Thameslink and the London Underground to provide links with outer London, the home counties, the City, Canary Wharf and three of London’s five airports.
88 Golden Lane
Clerkenwell is filled with beautiful warehouse buildings of all kinds, but this striking building to the south of Bastwick Street is unique. The building appears on the OS maps around 1840. It was originally a brick (London Stock) Warehouse connected by a bridge to a building to the south east (you can still see the doors to the rear elevation). It was a sole survivor of the devastation in the area during the Blitz (which led to the building of the Barbican and Golden Lane estates).
After the war the building was refenestrated with Crittall windows and rendered with a dark green base and a battleship grey top portion. Blair Associates Architecture acquired the building 21 years ago, painted it white and extended the roof portion. The building has numerous admirers and its often selected as a project for local Art Collages and Architectural Universities.
Do you have another favourite Clerkenwell structure? Let us know below.