Piper Building

The Piper building was constructed in the 1950s for North Thames Gas and by 1995, despite its distinctive murals by artist John Piper, had become redundant. Careful investigation of the structure revealed a precast concrete frame without internal columns and exceptional floor to ceiling heights, on which the developer Baylight wished to capitalise.

 

 

 

Client: Baylight plc

Location: London SW6

Status: Completed 1998

Services Engineer: Waterman Gore

Structural Engineer: Waterman Partnership

Main Contractor: Try Construction

Photography: Andrew Putler, Chris Gascoigne

Awards: Housing Design Award 1999, Hammersmith and Fulham Best Conservation Scheme Award 2000

Piper Building

The Piper building was constructed in the 1950s for North Thames Gas and by 1995, despite its distinctive murals by artist John Piper, had become redundant. Careful investigation of the structure revealed a precast concrete frame without internal columns and exceptional floor to ceiling heights, on which the developer Baylight wished to capitalise.

The principle hurdle to be overcome was a planning presumption in favour of an industrial or commercial use on the site. Negotiation with the council led to a mixed-use scheme with space for 78 loft-style apartments, as well as office, studio and light industrial uses, which, since its completion in 1999, have included fashion, wellbeing and fitness. While the case for retaining the existing structures was practical and financial rather than aesthetic, there was no doubting the quality of the volume of space in the apartments. The floor to ceiling heights were generous, varying between four and six metres, so innovative planning of the existing spaces, restoration of the murals and terrazzo floors in the reception, and replacement of the existing curtain wall with an insulated skin animated by balconies to animate the façade, produced a highly successful and marketable scheme.

The development contains a mix of large shells  and fitted-out flats, which were designed by Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands. Two basic plan forms were applied. The first, the so-called ‘Philip Johnson egg’, takes its cue from the layout of the New Canaan Glass House and places services in a central island core with a mezzanine above. The alternative layout features a double-height living space, with an upper level mezzanine gallery over the kitchen. The interiors are cool and modern in feel and exploit the basic volume: mezzanine levels, generous storage, and access to private outdoor spaces.

The white expanse of the exterior is animated through the use of large pull-down blinds, bright yellow in hue, to give shade and privacy to the light steel balconies. The roof of the large single-storey block is laid out as a communal garden. This block has been rendered in a rich yellow, a memory of the Mediterranean set alongside the Thames.

 

 

 

Client: Baylight plc

Location: London SW6

Status: Completed 1998

Services Engineer: Waterman Gore

Structural Engineer: Waterman Partnership

Main Contractor: Try Construction

Photography: Andrew Putler, Chris Gascoigne

Awards: Housing Design Award 1999, Hammersmith and Fulham Best Conservation Scheme Award 2000