Academy House – a 1980s building on London’s busy Oxford Street – has been transformed by John Robertson Architects (JRA) into an office and retail space.
The site’s long and rich history includes its use as a 1930s art house cinema which was later run as the Marquee Club, the venue where The Rolling Stones and The Who made their debuts.
Responding to the site’s cultural heritage, John Robertson Architects collaborated with London artist Catherine Bertola and The Sculpture Factory to design Art Deco-inspired perforated steel entrance gates.
John Robertson, principal director at John Robertson Architects, said: “The key challenge at Academy House was to design a truly modern building that relates to both Oxford Street and north Soho, while working within the context of a number of historically significant buildings in the area.
“We feel our use of hand-made blue faience adds a decorative flourish to the design which complements – rather than competes with – the building’s historic surroundings and will make a positive long-term contribution to Oxford Street.”
Internally, JRA has introduced a semi-industrial aesthetic across the office floors, retaining the exposed concrete frame in a raw state.
With a gross internal floor area of approximately 5,300 sqm, Academy House provides four floors of retail, four floors of office space and a timber-decked terrace which wraps around the perimeter of the building, offering stunning views across central London.
Informed by the rich palette of the surrounding listed developments – including Robert Lutyens’ black granite Pantheon building, Belcher and Joass’ Mappin & Webb building and Norman Shaw’s Wren-inspired former Waring & Willow building – JRA has chosen a bespoke glazed terracotta faïence cladding for the façade.
Experimenting with more than 30 glazing mock-ups combining cobalt, red iron oxide and titanium, the practice opted for a distinctive, vertically-ribbed tile with a blue glaze, contrasting with horizontal fritting across the façade’s glazing panels.
Maximising the project’s sustainability, the existing foundations and standard frame of Academy House have been retained and re-used, while external planted areas at roof level reduce rainwater run-off and promote biodiversity.
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