exterior of red brick building and gray addition

Central London’s Latest Office Block Redefines Adaptive Reuse

General Projects and Formafantasma transform a former gin distillery into a future-proof workplace championing a new form of sustainability and reuse.   

Smacked dab in the middle of Clerkenwell, a burgeoning creative hub in London, is Technique, a new office building that extolls the virtues of green design, responsibly sourced mass timber construction, and urban infill. The north, central neighborhood has seen a recent uptick in creative businesses drawn to space in its sprawling post-industrial warehouses. The new 74-thousand-square foot workplace is a response to this increased demand but does so much more. The project demonstrates a robust and dynamic approach to sustainability and resourcefulness; An innovative methodology that could be carried out in other parts of town and even in other cities. 

A StoneCycling brick facade englobes the various standalone structures of the former gin distillery, a three-story glulam beam extension and a new entrance wing. This product is manufactured using 80 percent demolition waste diverted from landfills—21 tons for this project alone. If that weren’t enough, the building’s sleek Milanese Art-Deco-esque lobby or Ingressi was outfitted by illustrious Italian design duo Formafantasma, using its Dzek-produced ExCinere porcelain tile—an bespoke material crafted using volcanic ash from Mount Etna in Sicily as its glaze. No two tiles are the same and form their own complex pattern of pixelated gradiation. The  studio’s minimalistic yet textured installation—featuring a reception desk, a water fountain, and a circular bench—sets the tone for the rest of the building and its green ambitions.

interior with tiled wall and man sittong on circular bench

With a slew of product collections launched at this month’s Milan Design Week, a symposium on timber and ecology hosted during the same event, and a solo exhibition currently on view at Manitoga / The Russel Wright Design Center in Garrison, New York, Formafantasma has been on a post-pandemic winning streak and is showing no signs of stopping. Like this project, the duo continues to prioritize new approaches to sustainability throughout its diverse suite of ventures.

empty interior with clt columns and polished floors

The overall project resulted from the combined efforts of the award-winning design studio, lauded creative director Tony Chambers—former editor in chief of Wallpaper magazine—and local firm Buckley Gray Yeoman. Doubling down on its commitment to reimagining the built environment to foster creativity and wellbeing, purpose-driven developer General Projects pulled this team together with aim of preserving and expanding on the existing structure rather than incurring the monetary and environmental costs of entirely new construction. 

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“The idea of adaptive reuse is deeply rooted within our ideology and is fundamental to the successful function and performance of the building. It is also at the core of the building’s beauty because sustainability can be [aesthetic] if executed rightly,” says Jacob Loftus, CEO of General Projects. “Technique will be a poster child for sustainable workplace development and the contemporary occupier experience, delivered through material excellence and detailed sophistication.”  

tiled walls by stairway and elevators

While restoring the original building and updating its basic utilities to meet the strictest energy standards, the team also emphasized using recycled building materials—the second-largest source of waste, globally—and innovative new composites. The Technique project accounts for a 43 percent reduction in carbon emissions compared to standard steel and concrete buildings. The interior features impressive 23-foot-high ceilings and large exposures that filter in ample amounts of natural light. Sustainability, as Technique’s design team shows, is as much about a more considered approach to material and construction as it is facilitating wellbeing and health, especially as workers begin to return to the office. 

cement-clad interior with table and chairs.

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