The Well & Bucket Pub forms the centre piece of a Grade II listed terrace and is the latest project from West Architecture. The terrace is at the north end of Brick Lane, within the Redchurch Street Conservation Area. An area that is currently in a state of flux as the energy of Shoreditch moves slowly east.
The building had been used as a leather wholesaler from the mid 1980s. After initially obtaining planning permission for change of use, a number of separate Listed Building Consents were required during the course of the project as opening it up revealed a variety of unexpected features and elements.
The project is much more about discovery, preservation and soft interventions rather than making architectural statements with new elements. It is also exemplary of West Architecture's role for ongoing client, Barworks, for whom they act as executive architects in the development of restaurants and bars in central London. For them, most of what West do is invisible, providing technical back up for the delivery of their projects whilst obtaining statutory approvals and advising on sites from the outset.
Upon the acquisition of this site, the architects were presented with a plasterboard lined box with no visible suggestion of what lay beyond the lining. They had previously researched the building and knew that in the past there were a number of Victorian tiled murals by William B Simpson.
Although they knew of the tiles' presence in the past, their condition was unknown. The majority of the tiles, it transpired, had been removed in the 1980s, the remnants of which were revealed after being hidden behind plasterboard for thirty years.
West Architecture sought to preserve what remained of original features and finishes whilst inserting contemporary additions. A new staircase to the basement connects to a private function room, cocktail bar and relocated WCs. To the rear a former infill extension has been removed to create a new outside drinking area adjacent to the ground floor bar, overlooked by a new window in an original opening which had previously been bricked up. Removal of the existing suspended ceiling revealed a hidden roof-light which has also been restored. Paneled wall linings and a new ceiling conceal an engineered acoustic construction which separates the bar from adjacent residential units to one side and above.