What was once a row of unremarkable and largely unused garages in Poplar, East London is now a hub for fashion and other creative industries.
Constructed with a modest budget, and led by Poplar HARCA, in partnership with the Greater London Authority, the London College of Fashion: University of the Arts London, and creative space enterprise The Trampery, the scheme brings an authentic, accessible and ambitious industry to Tower Hamlets. Known as ‘Poplar Works’, it has reinvigorated the East End’s historic relationship with fashion, textiles and related businesses.
The project includes an elegant and cost-effective CLT structure culminating in a ‘beacon’ double-height space at the north end of the site. The double-height structure serves as the reception for the building and accommodates exhibitions and a café, and access for the remainder of the facilities.
Along the south of the site the existing garage structures have been refurbished and extended with a new CLT first floor and distinctive north light saw-tooth roof. These house manufacturing units and lettable design studio and small business units.
Given the modest budget, the emphasis was placed on use and re-use. Existing foundations and structural elements were reused extensively throughout, and removal of soil from the site was almost eliminated. The workspaces take their scale from the cellular unit size of the existing garages, with small floor adjustments extending the footprint of the building where this could be achieved economically.
Adjustments to the public realm on Abbott Road allowed for a shared plaza space which can act as a working yard, while careful detailing avoided costly changes to the existing highways drainage layout. This space provides the opportunity for interaction between different workspaces, as well as between building users, neighbours and other users of Abbott Road.