De Matos Ryan is nearing completion of a mixed-use development on Penrose Street south of Elephant and Castle in Southwark. The development is due to complete in April 2017. The project re-purposes a redundant set-painting workshop into a development of nine residential units above commercial premises.
The building sits within a ‘train-scape’ of high-rise developments along the railway line, cushioning lower-rise residential neighbourhoods beyond. The sustainable re-use of existing building fabric, the redevelopment of once marginal boundaries and the resolution of complex site conditions are all a function of needing to find new opportunity within an increasingly dense urban context.
Before the arrival of digital print and projection technologies, the building used to supply scenic canvases to the West End. Working from a gridded guide, the set painting artists would stand on mezzanines halfway up quadruple-height studio spaces whilst their canvases travelled past them on a pulley system. As such, the original structure was defined by two tall voids with thick buttressed flank walls, which acted as counterweights. The proximity of these walls to the elevated viaduct made any ambition to replace them entirely unfeasible. Firstly, the cost of a line stop on the active railway was prohibitively expensive for any sustained period; secondly, the latest requirements to provide at least a two-metre maintenance offset from the railway arches would have also eaten into valuable footprint.
As such, the strategy has been to build a supporting frame from within the brick shell prior to making external amendments to the masonry. Once erected, this steel lattice allowed for the side walls to be supported whilst the end walls were remodelled around the new openings and recessed brick terraces.
The new street and rear elevations are built of reclaimed brickwork from the original building, mixed with palates of new heritage brickwork.
The refurbishment creates five storeys with the addition of new penthouse floor, which is set back from the brickwork parapet to create a wrap-around terrace.
The building comprises 640 sqm of residential units (a total of 9 units) and 205 sqm of commercial on the ground and first floors.
All apartments are dual aspect, with views towards the city and river from the bedrooms at the rear, and towards South London from the living spaces at the front.
The development is the second London scheme designed by De Matos Ryan for Rosemount Investments, following completion of 11 Southwark Street in 2016. A third project is underway on Blackfriars Road.
Raj Thaker, Rosemount Investments said:
“We are delighted to be returning this extraordinary building back to a positive use within the neighbourhood. Its position adjacent to the railway line has been an interesting challenge but worthwhile in a competitive market”.
Angus Morrogh-Ryan, Director, De Matos Ryan, said:
“We are very pleased to soon be completing another mixed-use scheme for Rosemount. These projects represent an important step in the studio's evolving portfolio, demonstrating that time spent cutting our teeth on private residential work has matured into larger scaled commercial development work. We are also enthusiastic about the potential of complex, sometimes marginal, sites adjacent to railways and believe under the right circumstances these can offer significant opportunities within the city”.