The brief was set out to provide a 26 room boutique hotel together with day spa facilities This new venture would compliment the existing facilities offered by the famous Shoreditch House Members Club in East London.
The new hotel sits adjacent to, and above, the existing entrance to the club and occupies the last remaining vacant plot on the Tea Building/Biscuit building urban block. The site had been occupied by a pub, the White Swan which had sat empty for a number of years and had fallen into a state of some dereliction.
The design can be read as a box within a box whereby a new, contemporary, structure rises from behind the façade of the old pub. This new piece, being 3 stories high, matches the height of the Victorian façade below but is clad in corten steel, which takes the form of a series of folded plates. The form is more reminiscent of an old engineering structure, or a pieces of discarded equipment, than a new building. However the tonal qualities of the corten steel sits in harmony with the historic brickwork of the adjacent warehouses.
The new composition completes, what had been, an empty corner and reinstates a consistent parapet height around the urban block. The building is situated directly opposite the new Shoreditch train station and provides a strong visual marker to visitors entering the district. Thus the architecture strives to surpass the immediate constraints of the brief and contribute to the wider urban setting.
The methods employed to build the hotel reflected both the desire to retain the character of the existing White Swan public house whilst embracing the challenging composition of the corten clad high level additions. For this reason we sought to relieve the retained facades from their load bearing obligations, converting them to no more than a decorative envelope. All of the structural loads are carried by a new internal steel structure that grows from basement to second floor level, from which point the structure changes again becoming load bearing concrete.
The use of concrete at high level allowed the geometric complexities of the design to be solved without the introduction of deep down-stand beams or internal columns that would have compromised the eventual bedroom layouts. This composite structure was then over-clad firstly in black EPDM membrane prior to the decorative corten cladding being hung in place. Whilst this was underway the existing elevations were carefully restored, with key features such as the existing iron columns at ground floor level being exposed as a unifying gesture between the existing building and the new additions.