Explore the latest projects from the UK’s commercial interiors industry, featuring the best of workspace, hospitality, living and public sectors.

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Grzywinski+Pons transform 1970s office block into the Locke at Broken Wharf hotel

The New York practice have transformed the office block into Locke Living’s latest offering.

12/03/2020 3 min read

This month, pioneering hospitality brand, Locke, will open its second hotel in London. Locke at Broken Wharf is a 113-room destination that includes a bar, restaurant, lounge and coworking space. The adaptive reuse project comprised a complete gut restoration and fit-out of an existing seven storey office building, situated just minutes from Blackfriars.

New York based Grzywinski+Pons – previously responsible for several of the brand’s locations – led the design and have continued their propensity for muted shades and detailed characterful accessories here.

The studio was inspired by the unique location of the project as well as the building being adapted, including the contrast in architecture and scenery surrounding the site. ‘The linear plan links two antithetical poles, each of which is equally and quintessentially London: on one side of the building you have some of the most spectacular and picturesque vistas overlooking the Thames, only steps away from the Millennium Bridge, with the Tate Modern, London Eye and Southbank Centre right on your doorstep. Then, just tens of meters to the north, you have a brutalist cross town artery – a dystopian vehicular tunnel straight out of Blade Runner,’ say Grzywinski+Pons. ‘There’s both urban grit and splendour, depending on which direction you choose to look.’

Built in the 1970s, the building’s original features were less than desirable and a challenge for the practice to transform into a hospitality offering. Each level was constrained by the building’s long and thin plan, interrupted occasionally by octagonal turrets and, inside, a warren of cubicles and grid ceilings.

‘Each level had no period character to exalt or embellish, so we stripped the structure down to its bones. We were able to manipulate the building sectionally – we removed some floor area to create double-height space while stitching it in elsewhere to accommodate more guest rooms and, in doing so, added our own exposed and celebrated structural interventions to those that we had just laid bare. These hybridised elements became the foundation of the ultimate aesthetic of the property we were recreating.

‘While we were able to open up some of the perimeter walls in the public spaces with expansive glazing, we were otherwise constrained by the aforementioned peculiar shape of the building,’ we’re told. ‘Rather than resisting the very nature of the form within which we were working, once we resolved to embrace the idiosyncratic, these constraints became opportunities and a source of inspiration. The rooms showcase the faceted form of the perimeter and one’s presence in the hotel is intrinsically linked to the experience of it from without. Presence of place is foremost.’

Grzywinski+Pons also employed low ceilings to create more intimate parts of public spaces, and celebrated the unique layout of the building by giving the opportunity to look clear across it. Canopies, bespoke mobile screens and various structural elements across the plan mean the space still radiates warmth and comfort across the bar, café and coworking space. The social space on the ground floor is texturally lush and inviting, with plenty of light and greenery, and pieces of red furniture acting as highlights across the space. The inside reflects the outside in certain details, such as perforated stainless steel panels, chain mail curtains and steel framing, all contrasting with the warm palette of the soft furnishing (tweed, wool and leather) and rattan and cream terrazzo surfaces.

Upstairs, the guest rooms also reflect the exterior of the building, featuring sage walls, highlighted orange windowsills and a mix of considered accessories that make each room feel unique. The kitchens combine birch ply, marble and smoked glass – both eclectic and effective – reflecting the rest of the room’s use of materials. ‘We designed the majority of the furniture, creating matte/gloss tension, employing chrome, stainless steel, smoked glass and polished copper, softened by the warmth and tactility of timber, stone, wool, cane and upholstery,’ Grzywinski+Pons tell us.

Locke at Broken Wharf sets the stage for two more London openings in Bermondsey and Dalston later this year, in addition to international projects in Dublin, Munich, Berlin, Lisbon and Copenhagen – all building on the success of Locke’s existing locations in Manchester, Edinburgh and East London. Each location is focused around the modern traveller, blurring the lines between high-end boutique hotel and the flexibility of an apartment – including vibrant social spaces often occupied by locals as well as hotel residents. Well worth a locke!

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