A building with such remarkable space and original features demanded an appropriate design response. Project Architect, Chris Wilkinson, instantly saw the opportunity to create something truly unique whilst preserving its rich history.
How did you approach the Bakery Place project?
We approached the project with great enthusiasm. Here was a building with unique character and form, waiting to be restored. The temptation to remove existing walls and oddly shaped spaces to make way for geometric configurations would have been to the detriment of the scheme, but we were aware of the need for delicacy and restraint. Ultimately our approach was to expose and celebrate the rich history by preserving its component parts.
Would you describe yourself as having a signature style, and if so how did that influence your design?
As a practice we do not define ourselves with a ‘signature style’, but try to show consistency in our approach by looking for unique opportunities in every project. This approach is what allows us to be flexible with such a magnificent, yet complex entity as Bakery Place. Our approach is reflected in what is preserved of the existing building and in our intervention to offset the old with the new.
What was the greatest architectural challenge you faced when designing the space?
The most challenging aspect of this project was bringing light into the deepest part of the floor plate. We had to borrow light from adjacent rooms with glazed partition walls and introduced double height spaces that push past the apartments above, allowing natural light to be drawn down into the central portion of the building.
What inspirations did you draw on?
For a conservation project such Bakery Place, inspiration normally arrives through the history of the project itself. Take for example the Lavender Walk elevation, children waiting outside for bread made the deep scores on the brickwork with pennies. This story gave us the direct inspiration to preserve the factory-like aesthetic of the entire Lavender Walk elevation, with thin black-framed windows to enhance its historical form and repairs for the brickwork where door openings were returned back into solid wall. When you looked across the whole project, each constituent part had its own story to tell.
What was the most rewarding part of the build?
When the 18m long steel frames were installed over The Bakehouse, in turn giving us the opportunity to stand in the semi-formed space imagining the finished product. At that same point in time, being immersed in the panoramic view of the local Victorian roofline was a very rewarding moment.
What sets Bakery Place apart from other buildings?
With original glazed brickwork, corbeled cast iron columns and timber sleeper beams, all preserved within the body of the scheme, Bakery Place truly is a unique building. Each and every dwelling presents its own individual character and charm. It allows everyone who lives there to feel like they own something rare and exclusive, a gem in an urban landscape.
How would you like someone to describe your work at Bakery Place?
I hope it will be described as having unique beauty and I also hope that people can see the consideration given to each and every peculiarity that comes with such a uniquely formatted building.