A former Council call centre in Waltham Forest has been re-made into a succession of bright, airy studio spaces. Realised by High St. Works, a collaboration between Jan Kattein Architects and Meanwhile Space, and with support from Waltham Forest Council and the Mayor of London, the building will offer affordable workspace to growing local businesses, while a ground floor cafe will offer co-working opportunities for those just getting started.
Blackhorse Road is slowly but surely gaining a reputation for its creative young businesses, fuelled by innovative workspace provision like the Blackhorse Workshop. Just a stone’s throw from the newly opened Walthamstow Wetlands, Switchboard Studios is the next step in this burgeoning scene, providing ample, generously daylit studios targetted at cleaner businesses that need their own space.
JKA were first commissioned in 2016 by Waltham Forest to prepare a grant application to the Mayor of London. The submission lead to a £1.1m capital grant being awarded for a suite of workspace projects in the borough. When a previous operator dropped out, High St. Works were commissioned to design, deliver and operate the building. Innovative design, basic sustainable materials and simple construction methods have transformed the building with a capital spent of only £380 sq/m including roof repairs, facade restauration and external works.
The existing building has been stripped back to its concrete frame, with minimal timber partitions following tits regular modernist grid. Peeling back the layers of successive fitouts has revealed original terrazzo floors and bathrooms, arcane telecommunications devices and a rational concrete structure. Glazed walls between the studios and corridors allow sunlight to stream in from the wide windows and deep into the floorplate.
The original entrance position have been reinstated to welcome vistors into an open plan ground floor cafe. Studios are arranged along the west of the ground floor and throughout the first floor. Outside, a grove of palm trees, the glow of red neon and a painted patio encourage activity to spill out into a sociable forecourt at the heart of the industrial zone.