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All Saints, Southwark

Words:
Regional Awards Jury

Sensitive, conservation-led approach marks out EPR Architects’ own office retrofit of former Victorian orphanage

All Saints.
All Saints. Credit: Simon Kennedy

2024 RIBA London Award

All Saints, Southwark
EPR Architects for EPR Studio 
Contract value: Confidential
GIA: 2855m2

All Saints is a former orphanage, constructed in 1875, south of Waterloo. EPR Architects bought the building from the Imperial War Museum estate to provide a new studio for their practice. They have pared the spaces back to the original E-shaped plan, opened them up to meet the bustling studio’s needs, restored masonry and windows and upgraded the building where possible to meet higher thermal performance than previous construction had allowed. The project’s sensitive, conservation-led approach to a non-designated heritage asset of a locally listed building and the care in the bespoke detailing, make it stand out as worthy of an award.

  • All Saints.
    All Saints. Credit: Simon Kennedy
  • All Saints.
    All Saints. Credit: Simon Kennedy
  • All Saints.
    All Saints. Credit: Simon Kennedy
  • All Saints.
    All Saints. Credit: Simon Kennedy
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EPR’s approach has rediscovered and successfully captured some of the building’s Victorian grandeur, while bringing it up to date with an exemplar retrofit. This was achieved by first peeling away some earlier alterations, then recalibrating the space. The key architectural moves are immediately clear as you enter: the wings have been infilled with two new fully glazed volumes to create a sequence of bright spaces. New openings through the exterior walls provide visual as well as physical links. These contribute to the practice’s everyday activities, fostering better connections for staff, to nurture a greater sense of community. In a large practice, with a team of around 200, maintaining this creative life within a substantial Victorian building was an important consideration.

Internally, the design takes its cues from the existing fabric: a cantilevered stone staircase, mosaic tiled floors and original brickwork have all been carefully retained, then enlivened by their relationship with new elements and finishes. The high-quality detailing includes bespoke hand-glazed tiles by ceramic artist Kate Malone. Even the signage has personality, beautifully hand-painted by traditional signwriter Alex Kilby and with spaces named after local characters, past and present.

  • All Saints.
    All Saints. Credit: EPR Architects
  • All Saints.
    All Saints. Credit: Simon Kennedy
  • All Saints.
    All Saints. Credit: Simon Kennedy
  • All Saints.
    All Saints. Credit: Simon Kennedy
  • All Saints.
    All Saints. Credit: Simon Kennedy
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At the heart of the plan, a central hall forms the focus of the building’s social life. Here, the plaster has been removed, revealing the brickwork’s natural colour. Acoustic panels have been added to hide services running at ceiling and below sill level. These measures lend the space a visual warmth and acoustic appeal, an approach supported by accents of colour on kitchen splashbacks and furniture. The jury was also impressed by the project’s openness to the wider community: the dining hall is used by local school groups and during public visits to the building.

The design shows great care for the teams and individuals that will work there, helping to give the building longevity. There is a strong focus on the quality of the social spaces, including a new wellness room and relaxed green terraces – plants are used inside and out to bring nature into the workplace. Accessibility has been a challenge within the constraints of the historical architecture. The design team has addressed this by creating a new entrance at the rear for cyclists. This mirrors the entrance to the Imperial War Museum staff quarters, a new building at the rear designed by others, demonstrating a respectful but individual response to its context. 

See the rest of the RIBA London winners hereAnd all the RIBA Regional Awards here.

To see the whole RIBA Awards process visit architecture.com.

RIBA Regional Awards 2024 sponsored by EH Smith and Autodesk

Credits

Contractor McCue Crafted Fit

Structural engineer Alan Baxter

Environmental/M&E engineer Hilson Moran Partnership

Quantity surveyor/cost consultant Gardiner & Theobald

Interior design EPR Architects

 

Credit: EPR Architects
Credit: EPR Architects
Credit: EPR Architects
Credit: EPR Architects
Credit: EPR Architects

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