Reviving An Institution
Ahead of Cordy House’s completion this summer, Arcademy Architectural Designer Joe Edwards talks about its transformation.
Cordy House (CH): How has the project developed since you took it on in 2009?
Joe Edwards (JE): A lot has happened in East London since we started the project: the Olympics raised the profile of the area and the brief altered accordingly – initially we looked at the project purely as a spatial exercise, taking out anything that wasn’t needed and stripping it back to its structural fabric. Cordy House has gone through it all, from demolition, to excavation, and finally construction – it’s been a great opportunity to get the whole practice involved.
CH: How would you describe the style of Cordy House?
JE: Curtain Road is where the City meets the East End. The style of Cordy House reflects this through its fabric, echoing the sleek city externally whilst remaining true to its structural origin throughout.
CH: What kind of materials have you used and why?
JE: The project brings together the ‘polished city’ with the rich history of the site. Going from glossy external tiles, interrupted only by strips of curtain walling, through to exposed concrete soffits and services – the two extremes are unified by junctions that have been meticulously considered throughout. High-quality finishes are offset by the exposed structure to create a building that offers functionality with a luxury edge.
JE: Where to start! The Olympics meant the project had to be thoroughly programmed around controlled road closures – demolition needed to start inside out and middle down. The site is also locked on three sides by surrounding buildings which led to many challenging design considerations determining where new meets existing.
CH: How do you approach projects?
JE: We take a holistic approach to design working through client requirements with engineers and local authorities to ensure the project not only works as a space, but also enhances its environment.
CH: What role does green building play into your work?
JE: We take a ‘fabric-first’ approach to sustainable building design and believe it’s the design team’s responsibility to educate, not only the client, but also the end user on how to maximise the efficiency of a building. To make a real difference, sustainable solutions must be built into the fabric of a building from the outset. ‘Sustainability’ is still seen by many as a buzzword when really it should be a standard.
CH: How is the East End a unique place for you to work?
JE: East London is incredibly versatile in terms of what it offers and as the area has developed, so has its desirability. There is a bit of everything here so it makes a really interesting place to design for!