85 Southwark Street located in London on a site of a derelict garage was designed by Allies & Morrison to accommodate their own studios. In a unique situation the architect and client provided a six storey office building including a basement tailored to their changing needs, yet generic enough so that it could be sublet or sold on if necessary. The building since 2003 has proven to be very adaptable while still possessing several unused provisions waiting to be activated.
The concept of adaptability in this project can be scaled throughout the building and into the urban surroundings. The open atrium space which can structurally be filled and the currently unused lintels and day joints in the large concrete wall both provide a latent potential for the space to be changed. The glazed street facing facade contains lighting on the floors which form a ‘thick’ wall with bright yellow shutters that can open like butterfly wings to multiply the light inside give life to the street at night and provide a sense of security and place. Another example of extending the design into the surrounding area is the position of the entrance to the building. The main entrance, a void through the building with doors on either side provides a link between urban nodes and improves public circulation through the city.
Image credits: Images courtesy of Allies & Morrison Architects