Through a series of strategic interventions Fletcher Priest have remodelled an unloved 1980‘s office block into The White Chapel Building for Derwent London, creating a vibrant hub for creative, technology and media companies. As part of this transformation, the 8270 m2 lower ground floor space of the existing office building has been converted to house the London Museum of Photography operated by Fotografiska. This leading Scandinavian photography museum runs an exhibition programme that highlights the work of world-renowned photographers.
Derwent London commissioned Fletcher Priest to replace the redundant lean-to against the west façade with a sleek, first floor pavilion whose classical lines echo that of the main building. Floating above the entrance, the pavilion will draw visitors to the ground and lower ground facilities, from where they can enter the extensive exhibition and event spaces below. The members’ lounge within the first floor pavilion perches over the street, enlivening the frontage.
The structural grid of the pavilion is clad in hot dip galvanized panels. Hot dip galvanizing was selected, following an extensive design review, for aesthetic reasons and for its durability given the gritty urban environment at the busy intersection of Whitechapel High Street.
Working closely with main contractor ISG, the structural glazing specialists OAG and their supplier Christian Pohl, samples and mock-ups of the galvanized panels (managed and produced entirely by OAG) were prepared as part of the design development.
These helped to inform the detailing as well as confirming the appealing visual appearance of the hot dip galvanizing process. In addition to the industrial quality of the finish, the variability of the surface quality of the hot dip galvanizing combined with its light reflectance and patination over time, appealed to Derwent London and Fotografiska.
“As with materials such as wood and stone, the finish of hot dip galvanizing with its naturally occurring variation, provides a visual richness which gracefully ages over time,” noted Tim Fyles, partner at Fletcher Priest and director of the works.