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23 Mar 2020

The Gaslight taps into Fitzrovia's artisan heritage

Words by  Photo by Ed Reeve

dMFK and Bureau de Change have collaborated on a creative workspace that fuses Art Deco with contemporary

London-based architects dMFK and Bureau de Change have completed work on The Gaslight, a contemporary flexible workplace in Fitzrovia, in the centre of the British capital. 

Housed within the former headquarters of the Gas Light and Coke Company — a utilitarian interwar brick structure with snatches of Art Deco detailing — The Gaslight aims to embrace contemporary design while leaving a trace of the district’s artisanal heritage.

dMFK created a new extension at the building's rear. Photo: Ed Reeve.dMFK created a new extension at the building's rear. Photo: Ed Reeve

dMFK has refurbished the original building while adding a new extension, doubling its depth from the back while retaining the historical facade. These new spaces include ample terraces, looking over a planted garden. There are sections for difference uses, including a ground floor restaurant unit and a lower ground floor gym.

Inside, the architects were inspired by the floor-to-ceiling windows of artist's studios. Photo: Gilbert McCarragher.Inside, the architects were inspired by the floor-to-ceiling windows of artist's studios. Photo: Gilbert McCarragher

A pre-patinated zinc roof, inspired by the glazed ceilings found in artist’s ateliers, swathes these new spaces in light. Windows have been enlarged, brickwork restored and original decorative metal features reinstalled. Two new pavilions at the building’s top, with domed ceilings, offer views across Fitzrovia. 

"We’ve had a rare chance," says dMFK founder Julian de Metz, "to work with the family who’ve owned this unique building for decades, who were attuned to its Art Deco history, but also not afraid of change."

One of Bureau de Change's most prominent interventions is a brass-sheathed lift shaft. Photo: Gilbert McCarragher.One of Bureau de Change's most prominent interventions is a brass-sheathed lift shaft. Photo: Gilbert McCarragher

Inside, Bureau de Change have aimed for a coherent visual narrative. The bathrooms have terrazzo panelling chosen to reference the original timer panelling. Wayfinding is provided by bronze signs. The lift shaft is sheathed within a bronze-toned filigree mesh, designed with an intricate pattern that alludes to craftsmanship while being the product of contemporary technology 

"We wanted," say the studio, "to test the idea of using typically industrial materials and fabrication techniques in a way that is more craftsman-like. The lift core and stairwell use 85 burnished bronze panels, each laser cut and folded to create an intricate framework."

The lift shaft features bronze patterning that resembles artisan metalwork. Photo: Gilbert McCarragher..The lift shaft features bronze patterning that resembles artisan metalwork. Photo: Gilbert McCarragher

Helmed by Katerina Dionysopoulou and Billy Mavropoulos, Bureau de Change have built up a reputation for their private houses; in 2019, they were shortlisted for both the Manser Medal and Architect of the Year at the Sunday Times Awards 2019. 

Architectural firm dMFK, meanwhile, is an old hand at workspace design. Last month, the firm completed work on their 9th project with The Office Group, in One Canada Square. 

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