Contractor: Gilbert Ash
Structural Engineering: Heyne Tillett Steel
Quantity Surveyor: Jackson Coles
Project Manager: Jackson Coles
Text description provided by the architects. Hawkins\Brown has completed the renovation of a former factory at 3 Haberdasher Street in London for British menswear accessories manufacturer and acclaimed maker of quality handmade ties, Drake’s.
It is a significant renovation project, restoring a classic 1930s building in a prime location on the corner of East Road and Haberdasher Street in the heart of East London’s Tech City neighbourhood.
The 4,320 sq m six-storey building relocates the company’s Clerkenwell-based workshop and Rotherhithe-based distribution centre and consolidates these services into a new London headquarters dedicated to the design, manufacture, distribution and administration of the business (the flagship store remains on Clifford Street, W1S). The development also includes prime office space and apartments for rent.
The scheme, designed in close collaboration with Drake’s, celebrates the light industrial aesthetic of the former factory building, whilst reflecting Drake’s commitment to tradition and craftsmanship through material specification and detailing.
The new double glazed Crittall windows are a prime example of this approach. Hand-made locally in Critall’s factory in Essex, they replace uPVC windows, reinstating the original glazed curve on the corner of Haberdasher Street and East Road. A herringbone pattern, ubiquitous in traditional British fabrics, is a recurring motif in the detailing, from the original wire cut bricks to the oak parquet floors and the terrace decking.
The building is accessed from Haberdasher Street with an entrance directly into a factory shop displaying a selection of ties and men’s accessories. The ground floor also includes an administration area for 16 desks, a meeting room and a warehouse with adjoining spaces for packing and distribution. Areas are subdivided by glazed Crittall screens to provide visual connection across the space.
In recognition of Drake’s strong and loyal workforce and the company’s desire to create the best environment for its employees, the design studio and workroom occupy the first floor in a free- flowing non-hierarchical layout. Whilst fabrics and patterns for ties and accessories are designed in the studio, the tie manufacturing process takes place in the workroom, with individual workstations for 18 separate quality checks.
Also located on the first floor, the staff canteen is a bright airy space that features two long tables to enable and encourage the employees of Drake’s to take their lunch together.
Hawkins\Brown’s refurbishment opens up the original building, stripping it back to its concrete frame whilst retaining and reusing original features including a caged lift and balustrades in the stairwell, port hole windows, concrete canopies and the street frontage clock which has been refurbished with Drake’s branding.
Concrete ceilings and columns are exposed to show the material of the building. Suspended ceilings have been removed and service ducts bored through the original structural beams to increase ceiling heights. Oversized disc pendant lights detract from overhead services and serve to unify the entire floor, creating a sense of non-hierarchical workspaces. Glazed Crittall partitions are utilised internally to create a light-filled and spacious working environment with extensive views out. Floors are polished screed, a robust and durable finish to withstand the constant movement of trolleys being wheeled between workstations.
Built in furniture has been tailor made by Hawkins\Brown in close consultation with Drake’s Operational Director Chris Tanner. Crafted from MDF panels, the black units and white washed walls provide a monochrome backdrop to the brightly coloured fabrics on Drake’s production line.
Accessed via a separate entrance on Bevenden Street, the scheme also comprises prime office space for rent on the 2nd floor.
A third entrance on East Road gives access to Crafters House, the residential aspect of the development. Located on the 3rd and 4th floors of the building, it comprises nine apartments with access to a communal roof terrace. Drake’s directors - Mark Cho and Michael Hill – have taken occupation of two of the nine apartments, thereby reinstating the British tradition of living above the shop. The remaining seven apartments are being marketed as rental properties. Each apartment, two of which are duplexes, has a unique floorplan. All are finished with high quality fittings - including oiled oak parquet flooring, black Smeg freestanding fridges and open plan kitchen/diners, creating a warehouse aesthetic in keeping with the entire redevelopment.