Design

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Gort Scott transform 1960s Walthamstow office block into creative hub

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The London-based architectural studio Gort Scott has converted a rundown office block in the city's Walthamstow area into a hub for local creatives, featuring co-working spaces, maker studios and even a bakery cafe. Walthamstow Central Parade was originally built in the 1960s to serve as council offices, but Gort Scott has renovated the building to create 650 square metres of space for independent workers and businesses. The architects used mid-century-inspired details and furnishings to pay tribute to the building's heritage, while utilitarian elements suit its more functional new use. The result is a spacious facility suitable for various activities, which also promotes the Walthamstow area as a hub for the creative industries.

Walthamstow Central Parade provides stylish workspaces with varied facilities”

The first step was to strip back the interior to create a warehouse-like space, with bare walls and floors, and ventilation ducts and electrical fittings exposed across the ceiling. Gort Scott then restored the unusual facade details, which included a wavy concrete canopy (now painted a bright yellow) and decorative tiles. These provided the design cues for the interior, as well as for the building's new signage. Inside, the main hall is divided up into two areas. The first side is open to the public, and accommodates a bakery cafe, as well as a series of small studio/shop units and exhibition areas. A few steps lead up to the second area; a co-working space where desks are kitted out with sockets, lamps and plants. Meeting rooms and other facilities are located in the rooms behind.

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Jay Gort, who leads the agency alongside his partner, Fiona Scott, said: “Walthamstow Central Parade provides stylish workspaces with varied facilities, enabling a range of creative industries and emerging enterprises to thrive in the area.” Of their extensive work on the original office block, he added: “We ensured that the facades of this landmark building were sensitively updated to re-establish the buildings positive contribution to the streetscape. We then worked closely with graphic designers from Polimekanos to develop a graphic identity for the project, which was inspired by the original decorative facade tiles.” Clare Coghill, a local politician who helped get the project off the ground, added: “Waltham Forest is London's fastest growing hotspot for culture and creativity, so it is ideal for us to be able to use this building to provide more space for local creative businesses to grow and thrive.”

Waltham Forest is London's fastest growing hotspot for culture and creativity”

Gort Scott also developed a range of bespoke furniture for the project, helping to keep costs down. The facility is run by the social enterprise Meanwhile Space, which has worked on similar projects across the capital. Gort Scott was founded in 2007, and has since worked on numerous projects in London's more deprived communities, including a golden public toilet in Wembley and a public space in Tottenham.

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