Text description provided by the architects. Architect Studio RHE has completed the Import Building, the first phase of works at Republic, a next-generation workplace campus in east London aimed at creative businesses priced out of central London and Shoreditch.
Developed by Trilogy Real Estate and LaSalle Investment Management, Republic aims to stem the tide of young companies leaving London by creating 6over 50,000 sq ft of truly affordable workplace that meets contemporary professional and personal needs, with a focus on the core values of creativity, connectivity and affordability. The Import Building is the first building to complete on the campus in London’s East India Dock.
The Import Building has been fully refurbished and extended to provide 220,000 sq ft of high-quality flexible workspace. New amenities added to the development include an organic supermarket, a gym and The Gentleman Barrista cafe, as well as biodiverse outdoor landscaped Public Realm to create a vibrant new campus and neighbourhood. A six-storey high art work on the east facade by artist Scott King, titled Model of Utopia, draws on the work of 1970s cybernetics theorists to illustrate a model of a utopian society organised around the needs of the workforce.
On the Ground floor, a sleek, two-storey timber and steel-clad black extension has been added to the south-west corner. The design aesthetic continues along the main entrance façade, with the existing colonnade of the original post-modern building infilled with new glazed facades extending beyond the building line to create brightly lit, open spaces at ground floor level to accommodate dramatic double-height retail units. The redesigned façade is punctured by numerous new doors from the street – with sliding doors opening onto the newly designed atrium at their rear – to create a much more transparent and active street frontage. The existing building has been painted matt black to create a contemporary and cohesive design.
A new funnel-shaped, timber-clad entrance leads into the 10-storey atrium. Reconfigured through the insertion of a timber structural frame made from glue laminated beams and infill slabs of cross-laminated timber, the useable floor area has been increased through extending into and making better use to the atrium space. The exposed timber finish creates warmth, while a striking Mexico Blue staircase sits at the atrium’s heart. Prefabricated from steel, this faceted design leads to the first two floors, which open onto the atrium and the convenient location promotes stair usage.
The public realm that surrounds the Import Building is intended to be an urban oasis that accommodates both people and wildlife including hidden habitats such as bird boxes under seating, insects’ boxes nestled within planting and a bat box behind timber cladding. Large planters and the waterways are planted with ornamental grasses and aquatic flora.