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Tigg + Coll Architects embrace the theatrical at Chapter Living Old Street

Tigg + Coll was tasked with creating a vibrant and inspiring amenity space for long-standing client, Greystar, combining key thematic threads and an existing material palette to provide a comforting ‘welcome home’ to residents and an inspiring introduction to visitors.

29/04/2021 3 min read

Project Team

  • Client

    Greystar

  • Architect & Interior Design

    Tigg + Coll Architects

  • Main Contractor & M&E

    Corley & Woolley

  • Acoustics

    KPAcoustics

  • Joinery

    Faber Bespoke

  • Furniture Supplier

    Conran

  • Furniture

    Faber, Muuto, Modus, Menu, Massproductions, Pedrali, Andreu World, Normann Copenhagen, Møbel Copenhagen, The Conran Shop

  • Flooring

    Amtico, InOpera, Solus

  • Other

    Grok, Baswa, Waverley

Guests arriving at Chapter Old Street – a dramatic new co-living space for students on the edge of the City of London – are immediately greeted by a theatrical entrance hall, which Tigg + Coll saw as a reinterpretation of the classic proscenium stage: frames of curved walnut arches sit against a decorative terrazzo floor, revealing new ‘sets’ as you make your way through the space.

‘We wanted the space to feel thematically relevant to its immediate context and our research led us to the local siting of Shakespeare’s theatre company (on Curtain Road) and its first permanent home in 1597, which saw early performances of some of Shakespeare’s most iconic plays, such as Romeo & Juliet and Henry IV parts I and II,’ David Tigg and Rachel Coll, the studio’s founders, tell us. ‘This inspiration led to an exploration of theatre design through the ages, focusing on the Art Deco inspired theatre foyers of the 1920s, through to the glamour of 1950s cinema and theatre.’

A reception desk, upholstered benches, lounge spaces with curtain backdrops (another nod to the theatrical) and ribbed glass screens, which smartly create seating booths, are complemented by a selection of mid-century inspired furniture in bright fabrics, walnut and stone. The ceiling and services are painted out in black, with simple track lighting inspired by theatrical lighting rigs and a selection of elegant brass pendant lights highlighting key set pieces within the space.

The building previously lacked collective spaces for residents and guests to meet, socialise and study – and these new spaces needed to remedy that. ‘The existing layout was extremely fragmented, with residents only having access to half the overall space, whilst the rest was occupied by staff areas, back of house uses and circulation,’ explains David.

A more inclusive and interconnected set of spaces have been created – with both shared and private meeting spaces for study, and a more welcoming and open reception area for residents and guests to feel they can get advice and feel safe in their surroundings.

‘Above all, we wanted to give more shared soft space, which had personality and vibrancy so residents could use these areas for relaxing,’ says Rachel. ‘Given we designed and delivered these spaces in a pandemic, we were conscious of creating spaces which residents would feel comfortable to use, no matter what the future held.

‘Be it spaces for gathering in small groups or individuals waiting for friends to come down from their rooms, it was important to try and consider how people would feel about proximity and what we could actively do. Our use of screens and arches were part of this interplay of breaking spaces down to give focus to activities but also create physical subdivision for individuals or small groups.’

The flexibility of these spaces also aims to allow enough bandwidth for residents to curate the space and how it is used. New amenities include study booths, lounge areas, the entrance hall for meeting visitors and a private room, which can be booked out by residents for study use or small gatherings – all of which adds useful space, which can be used and enjoyed day-to-day by all residents. ‘Daily engagement between residents, their guests and house managers is seen as being vitally important by the client in creating happy residents who will want to stay living at their buildings year after year, particularly with the impact and potential isolation issues of many of their residents who live alone,’ says David. ‘Frequent interaction is therefore seen as hugely important to make sure that everyone is satisfied with the service that is being provided and, beyond this, checking on people’s mental health. This was achieved through creating shared spaces where staff can work, run the reception and where residents can socialise – creating a softer and more natural approach to engagement.’

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