The London-based practice transforms a Victorian warehouse in Whitechapel into a flexible space that suits a transient lifestyle

Vine Architecture Studio - Whitechapel Road - HQ-1 © Nicholas Worley

Source: Nicholas Worley

The project, in Whitechapel, east London, specified primarily natural and raw materials

Designed by Vine Architecture Studio, a Victorian warehouse in the heart of east London has been given a new lease of life for a landlord providing workspace for small creative start-ups.

The client, a fashion and costume designer, often works on location for long periods at short notice, and the refurbishment of her top floor space acknowledges this transient lifestyle, unlocking it for both living and work.

The team’s first move was to open up the unused loft space, creating a mezzanine floor for use when the client is staying in London. The floor edge has been pulled back to reveal the arched warehouse window in its entirety, allowing light to flood in. A small kitchen and bathroom sit below the mezzanine.

The original roof trusses have been retained and left exposed to mark out distinct areas for sleeping, relaxing and dressing. The main workspace below is open and flexible, allowing cutting tables, sewing machines and workbenches to be arranged according to the current project.

A key principle of the design approach was to specify natural and raw materials, selecting those that were traceable to their source, and free from chemicals and excessive processing. The walls are made of clay and timber, contrasting with bright rubber flooring that colour wraps up the wainscotting in the workspace and continues up the stair treads.

Other specification choices included cork for the mezzanine flooring and wall panelling, oak for the joinery, vegetable oil-based paint, and Rubblazzo kitchen worktops made from rubble salvaged from demolished London buildings.

Project details 

Architect Vine Architecture Studio
Contractor Miles Builders
Structural and civil engineer Rodrigues Associates
Approved inspectors JM Partnership
Windows Velfac, Bespoke glazing design 
End walls Clayworks plaster
Side walls T&G Softwood Timber
Rooflights Glazing Vision, Roofmaker
Flooring NoraPlan Uni Rubber, Granorte Cork
Kitchen worktop Rubblazzo
Bathroom vanity and surrounds Terrazzo
Bathroom tiles Grestec Sagol
Metalwork London Metal Works
Lighting PK Green, Astro, Enlight
Smoke curtain BRE
Fire treatment Zero Flame