Camden venue’s dome destroyed as flames engulf grade II-listed building’s roof
An investigation has begun into the cause of a fire that ripped through the upper level of legendary north London music venue Koko, which had been undergoing a £40m upgrade designed by Archer Humphryes Architects.
Sixty firefighters were drafted in to tackle the blaze, which broke out at the Camden institution just before 9pm on Monday.
The club, which over the years has hosted the Rolling Stones, Motörhead, Prince and Oasis, had been undergoing a refurbishment which will also see a private members’ club, boutique hotel and recording studio added to the grade II-listed building.
The London Fire Brigade said at one point a third of the roof of Koko was in flames.
Station commander Jon Lewis, who was at the scene, said: “Firefighters’ quick action and hard work in the early stages meant the fire was contained to the roof and saved the rest of the building.”
He said the LFB was called at 8.56pm and the fire was finally under control more than five hours later at 2.37am, adding that the cause of the fire was under investigation.
London-based contractor Od Projects had the lead role delivering the project, which Archer Humphreys first previewed in 2017.
Campaign group the Victorian Society praised firefighters for containing the blaze to the roof of the 120-year-old building – known by a variety of names over the years, including the Music Machine and Camden Palace.
Camden's GII-listed KOKO music venue has been engulfed by fire. We're relieved that the fire was contained to the roof, and hope the elaborate interior plasterwork has not been severely damaged by water. Designed by WGR Sprague, the building opened as the Camden Theatre in 1900. pic.twitter.com/BHJYpSxqsn— The Victorian Society (@thevicsoc) 7 January 2020
“We’re relieved that the fire was contained to the roof, and hope the elaborate interior plasterwork has not been severely damaged by water,” it said on social media. “Designed by WGR Sprague, the building opened as the Camden Theatre in 1900.”
Camden council leader Georgia Gould said it had been “heartbreaking” to watch fire spread at the venue.
Heartbreaking watching the Camden Palace / Koko up in flames this evening, a building that holds so many memories and means so much to us in Camden. Incredible how quickly @LondonFire got under control, we owe them so much for their swift and courageous response pic.twitter.com/tLPS5cLwnN— Georgia Gould (@Georgia_Gould) 6 January 2020
Archer Humphryes’ plans, created for building landlord Vevil International, included a 32-bedroom hotel with a rooftop lobby directly above the auditorium; a bar and function room located within the dome; a VIP suite in the venue’s flytower and revamping the Hope & Anchor pub which is part of the site.
Archer Humphryes Architects had not responded to Building Design’s request for comment by the time of publication.
In a tweet that has now been deleted, Cousins & Cousins said in February 2019 that it was working on an aspect of the project but when contacted by Building Design last night they referred calls to Od Projects whose phone was permanently engaged.