Maple Place, Fitzrovia
A project to refurbish two existing office buildings, conjoined, but built in wildly differing periods. The site is set within an urban block, located in the heart of Fitzrovia. The name is derived from Charles FitzRoy, 1st Baron Southampton, who developed much of the surrounding area during the late 18th and early 19th century, the northern portion of the street facing the site and Fitzroy Square feature many of the original houses built speculatively during this time. Within the vicinity of the site are located a number of architectural and cultural points of interest including BT tower (built in 1965), and Fitzroy Square to the north (featuring the largest portion of Charles FitzRoy’s original portland stone fronted town house). Also on the corner of Fitzroy Street and Grafton Way is the YMCA Indian Student Hostel, one of the last remaining buildings by Ralph Tubbs, architect of the Dome of Discovery at the Festival of Britain. Fitzrovia has also been home to many important historical and cultural figures such as George Bernard Shaw and Virginia Wolf. As well as its rich historical legacy, the surrounding area is also a diverse mix of commercial and residential properties with a high proportion of student accommodation.
We have refrained from producing an archetypal office refurbishment scheme (but still increasing the nett/gross ratio). Instead we have drawn upon the rich local context in order to generate an articulate narrative for the site; one of grain, materiality, texture, and in some part a re-appropriation of its cultural identity. The resulting scheme seeks to intervene with the existing fabric in a purposeful but gentle manner, leaving where possible the building intact, adding light layers where necessary. The scheme is manifest with bespoke folded plate signage and light fittings, black enameled steel conduit, and handrails weaving a simple trace of intervention throughout the common parts of the building.
The floor plates are cleaned out, and the language of the communal areas, extended through to include raw lighting tubes, connected to extended conduit routes, again in black enamel. Where possible, the floor slabs have been exposed and simply treated enabling them to remain in view.
The resultant ‘reductivist’ palette of materials is honest and economical but of lasting durability and quality; we hope this will add to the building’s life span and in turn contribute to the wider context.