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Tigg + Coll Architects has overhauled the main entrance and amenity spaces at Chapter Spitalfields student accommodation, creating a beautifully textured and detailed space with plenty of options for socialising and studying.
Tigg + Coll
Solus Tiles, Amtico
Corley + Woolley, Tigg+Coll
Tigg + Coll has been tasked with the rethinking and reimagining of several spaces across London for the Greystar student brand, Chapter. The most notable of these being the large refurbishment at the Kings Cross site in 2016. For this latest project in Spitalfields, the team has extended the existing entrance lobby, creating a separate commercial space and entrance foyer to the student amenity space.
Tigg + Coll worked closely with Greystar to ensure that the interior scheme reflected the company brand and ethos; rather than feeling like student accommodation, the interiors were designed to feel more like a high-end boutique hotel, creating inviting living spaces that residents would be proud to call home.
The existing interiors within the space were looking tired and dark, with an uninviting entrance and unclear wayfinding. Tigg +. Coll added a fresh and contemporary palette of materials and colours to the interiors, giving an increased sense of arrival into the building.
‘The reception was moved into the main entrance, to provide increased surveillance but, rather than a formal reception desk, it was designed as an elegant piece of joinery that is a focal point within the space – with a marble-effect worktop, stained ribbed timber cladding and bronze detailing,’ says Helen Sutton, Associate Architect at Tigg + Coll. ‘This also makes the relationship between staff and students more open and formal, with additional glazed meeting rooms available for both staff and student use.
‘Designer light fittings, from the likes of Michael Anastassiades, were selected for the entrance space – supplied by Conran – which you would not usually expect to see in student accommodation. However, the clients felt this would add a sense of luxury to the scheme and set it apart from other student buildings.’
A simple mix of materials was used, tying the various spaces together with split-block colour applied to the walls that run through the building. Vertical strips of ribbed timber detailing frames the built-in booth seating and joinery, increasing the impact of the double-height space.
Additional brass feature lighting was selected and contemporary FFE is specified throughout to bring a sense of luxury to the scheme, in keeping with the Chapter brand, whilst making the spaces feel comfortable and homely at the same time.
While the designs were developed with the company brand in mind, the team also drew upon the local context of the building – a feature in keeping with the entire Chapter portfolio. This allows each of the Chapter residencies to have a unique look and feel, dominated by the architecture of the individual building – stripped back spaces revealing original concrete and steel structures with a baseline of key aesthetic features that translate across the entire portfolio.
For Spitalfields, the interiors scheme adds a rich colour scheme, taking cues from the surrounding area and its rich Victorian heritage – including the famous silk industry of nearby Fornier Street. ‘The block-colour palette was derived from the multi-coloured entrance doors and shutters, and the detailed entrance porticos inspired the ribbed wall panelling and joinery details,’ says Helen.
These block colours are added throughout the common areas, layered with more intricate wall panelling detailing, which weaves the spaces together and ties the joinery and finishes together into a holistic design. Curved walls and joinery have been inserted into the existing spaces to create softer spaces for students to meet, study or relax.
‘The refurbishment was seen as a key move for Chapter, with Spitalfields seen as its flagship site,’ says Helen. ‘The main challenge with the project was how best to achieve the clients’ new operational strategy – which was to make the building feel open and accessible, whilst maintaining security for residents. We adjusted the flow through the spaces, allowing for access routes that can be open during the day, and closed off for one-way access at night.’
The newly reconfigured layout of the amenity space provides increased security for the residents, as well as delivering a range of social and study spaces that the residents enjoy spending time in. Unsightly speed gates were replaced with Crittal-style glazed doors to give increased permeability and connection between spaces.
The bar forms a central feature element within the student amenity spaces, added into the centre of the space to connect the various facilities together and act as a focal point within the building. This can be used as a coffee bar during the day, functioning as a bar at night when events are held in the auditorium. The existing auditorium, with tiered seating, was underutilised in its previous configuration, and is now reworked into a space that students can use for study when events are not on.
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