Southwark. 2008

  • Project Details
  • Completion: 2008
  • Cost: £1.3 Million
  • Clients: Cathedral Group HQ

Through the choreography of careful insertions, Cathedral HQ’s refurbishment plays on the juxtapositioning of old and new to accentuate the qualities of both. Within the Grade II* listed St. Thomas’s Church (neglected and on English Heritage’s ‘at-risk’ register when work started), a raised balcony floor is placed to extend the amount of usable floor space, whilst the below-ground crypts are reinvented as meeting rooms and support spaces. The architectural strategy for the fit-out was generated by both the physical restrictions of the existing building and the philosophy of the occupier; the varied flexible working environments are characterful and promote creativity, and can all be dismantled or reconfigured if needs be. The church’s existing panelling, the inserted new joinery and the void between the balconies are all adapted, utilised or configured to discretely conceal services to the three internal floors.

Cathedral is a unique and vibrant headquarters building for the innovative property development Cathedral Group located in St Thomas’s Church, Southwark. The new headquarters and refurbishment has built upon the existing special qualities of the building.

By creating a contemporary working environment and location for Cathedral’s own art collection, the architects have designed a place that would enable the company to attract and retain the very best staff and which was inspiring and convenient for everyone they work with.

The project has also provided improved access and amenities for The Old Operating Theatre Museum, located in the church roof space.

As the existing church is over 200 years old, the building did not comply with modern standards with regards to accessibility.  From the outset, a key strategy has been to improve accessibility for all, creating an inclusive office space for the 21st century.  To do this a balance had to be struck with the heritage requirements for the building and current regulation.  A new disabled call system has been installed to allow managed access into the building, allowing the main ground floor space to be fully accessible.  The ground floor WC facilities have been upgraded to accommodate disabled use for both the office and the Old Operating Theatre Museum.  

Once inside the office, the new reception desk allows ease of use for all, meeting modern standards, even within tight space constrictions created by the existing building.  The ground floor office space has new ramped circulation allowing all visitors to use the grand chapel space unhindered. New elements within the existing building have also been upgraded to improve accessibility with contrasting nosing’s to stairs and clear definition between floor and wall elements.  Within the initial phase of work, studies were carried out to identify strategies from installing a lift to allow the basement and balcony areas to be made accessible in the future and planning/listed building permission has been granted to allow the work to take place in the future.

Through the upgrading of the entrance lobby and reception areas, we have looked to create clarity with regards to the entrance sequence through greater visual permissibility which also aids the natural surveillance of communal entrance areas.

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