A BREEAM excellent re-imagining of historic buildings in Islington

Merchants Hall

December 2018



A former 1850s sorting office in Islington, we transformed the space into a high-quality, single occupancy workspace. The building, on a prominent corner site in Essex Road close to Camden Passage.

The project radically adapts and extends the locally listed Merchants Hall to include a new reception front­ing Essex Road, a new four storey extension in the rear vacant car park, and a new two storey roof exten­sion. In addition the refurbishment of a former coach house to the rear of the building on Packington Street to create two units of affordable workspace and two new residential units.

A contemporary material palette includes white or galvanised steel, exposed brickwork, cross-laminated timber, and glass. Whilst the build­ing has been designed as a flexible headquarters building most likely for a single-tenant, BAA has created an interior with a significant amount of original character and charm.

A pre-fabricated and pre-finished lightweight CLT structure has been inserted into retained facades, an innovative construction technique that contributed to a fast build and the building’s BREEAM Excellent rating. A structural separation between floorplates and elevations has enabled an additional set back, glazed upper floor and roof terrace, with light wells employed throughout the interior to bring light deep into the spaces and provide unexpected and delightful moments.

Frontages on all three streets have vastly improved proportional relationships to nearby buildings and create a clear visual hierarchy. Shop front windows to Merchants Hall have been enlarged to echo the proportions of the adjacent pub. Windows along the side of the building look like traditional sash win­dows but feature an innovative automated opening system for easy natural ventilation. A new extension on the site of the pub’s old car park, rationalises the elevations on Queens Head Street, with vertical brick piers and windows used to create a sense of scale reactive to adjacent terraced houses.