BBC DIY SOS: Dale Youth Boxing Club by Featherstone Young by Alex Upton

Dayle Youth Centre Featherstone Young

Location: North Kensington, London, UK.
Developer: BBC and Westway Trust
Architect Featherstone Young
Photography Client: Kalwall UK

Located in the shadow of the elevated A40 road in North Kensington is Bay 20, a plot of land owned and operated by the Westway Trust. The contentious history of the site and the multifarious visions that came and went with the years that it intermittently lay in a state alternating between occupation and dormancy, are well documented in an article by Isabelle Priest in the RIBA Journal. In the wake of the tragedy that was the Grenfell Tower fire in 2018, these unused spaces were utilised by the local communities as places to convene, although the Bay 20 plot remained inaccessible; a dark, desolate space that prompted avoidance.

Rear Entrance to Bay 20 and Dale Youth Boxing Club

Rear Entrance to Bay 20 and Dale Youth Boxing Club

Fortunately this state of impasse was to come to an end when, after the fire, directors at the BBC’s show DIY SOS decided to create something for the community in the area. Working within a two to three week build time the project sought to involve the local residents in the project as much as possible, consulting their opinions at various stages throughout the design process. The suppliers of materials and building contractors, all charitably offered their services free of charge and the architectural practice Featherstone Young were approached to create designs for the two buildings that were to occupy the site.

Reception area for Dale Youth Boxing Club

Reception area for Dale Youth Boxing Club

One of the buildings, it was decided, was to be the new home to the Dale Youth Boxing Club, which had formerly been based in the first floor of Grenfell Tower. This was the particular building for which I was commissioned to photograph both the interior and exterior spaces, by the client Kalwall UK, whom I had previously worked on a number of interesting projects with, such as West Croydon Bus Station and the Benenden Hospital Redevelopment. For the client this was an unique project as it saw their Kalwall curtain walling integrated seamlessly with intermittent panels of glazing, the product making up nearly the entirety of the external structure. As with the previous projects I had photographed by day these semi-opaque panels allowed natural light to gently permeate the buildings interior, while at night inverting this effect.

Dale Youth Boxing Club Exterior

Dale Youth Boxing Club Exterior

Dictated by the contours of the site the new Dale Youth Boxing Club fits snugly underneath the flyover and features, over its two floors, a fully equipped training area, boxing ring and changing rooms. On my final visit to photograph the project in the early evening it was great to see the local residents, especially the children, making use of both the new walkway that the site has opened up and the facilities it offers -uninhibited by the anxiety that the site once projected. In the evening the space really comes to life with the gym’s internal light illuminating the building and the colourful panels of the community centre opposite creating a welcoming environment.

Training facilities inside Dale Youth Boxing Club

Training facilities inside Dale Youth Boxing Club

For those interested in seeing the project come to life, it’s conception, design and construction was featured over two episodes of the BBC’s DIY SOS programme. Like all new developments, their is often an air of apprehension and distrust in the local community as to how much they will benefit from them, but it is safe to say from my own visits to the site that these fears have been allayed and the locals, especially the children have really embraced the project and are already making great use of it.

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In terms of both architecture and materials Bay 20 and The Dale Youth Boxing Club exemplify the transformative power of architecture and what can be done with limited resources, space, and a potentially oppressive location. The hard work of all those involved and their charitable donations have created a wonderful space where the local community can come together and experience a place that they helped to shape. It is sometimes these smaller, community based projects that make architectural photography such a rewarding profession; witnessing the local children and parents utilising and having fun in the space is surely sign of a successful endeavour.

Brunel University Wilfred Brown Building by Sheppard Robson by Alex Upton

Brunel University Wilfred Brown Building.jpg

Location: Uxbridge, London, UK.
Developer: Brunel University
Contractor: ARJ Construction
Architect / Photography Client: Sheppard Robson

Delving once again into the architectural photographers archive here is yet another project I have unearthed; Brunel University’s refurbished Wilfred Brown Building by the London-based Sheppard Robson architectural practice. Almost immediately after completing the photography of One Creechurch Place in late 2017 for the same client another completed project awaited me, this time in the form of the Wilfred Brown Building which houses the College of Engineering, Design and Physical Sciences for Brunel University. The project can be found situated amongst the University’s large campus located on the fringe of West London in the town of Uxbridge.

Brunel University Wilfred Brown Building 2.jpg

The Wilfred Brown Building was originally delivered by Sheppard Robson in 1968 followed by a rooftop extension in 1990. Like many Universities, findings itself amidst a flux of expansion in student numbers and a need to accommodate cutting edge learning facilities Brunel commissioned a modernisation of the building. Relieved of its aging skin the structure was stripped back to its concrete frame and re-clad with a ‘saw tooth’ facade, which according to Sheppard Robson is comprised of a ‘north-west facing clear glazing and west, south-west facing glazing with interstitial architectural mesh to provide solar shading’. Situated above this is a crown of perforated profiled metal which compliments the glazing below.

Brunel University Wilfred Brown Building 3.jpg

The building, situated on the universities western boundary is accompanied by a quaint pond - home to several ducks and a scattering of Water Lilies - creating an idyllic microcosm amidst the hustle and bustle of campus activity. For any trivia buffs, an episode of the BBC comedy Cuckoo was filmed outside the building when the families son attended an unnamed University. When photographing the building it came to my attention that one of the aesthetic qualities the jagged facade expertly accentuates is a reflected sunset, as seen in the Miami-esque shades of pink and orange intermittently captured along the glazed panels.

Brunel University Wilfred Brown Building 4.jpg

Internally the building is fitted out by Sheppard Robson’s interior design department ID:SR. Due to its multiple uses, a variation in the design elements and application of colour make an intuitive and easily navigable space. Corridors and open spaces are punctuated by both private and public study areas, formed from colourful sofas and chairs which offer both comfort and a level of concealment. Other rooms are home to more specialised equipment, assessment, interview and meeting rooms, as well as several large spaces for lectures and faculty meetings. As when having photographed other University buildings in the past, a brief exposure to campus life is enough to draw on a sense of nostalgia for a simpler, more fun, albeit debt driven way of life, compelling one to abandoned the strictures and ennui of working life and take up a lengthy degree course.

One Creechurch Place by Sheppard Robson by Alex Upton

One Creechurch Place Sheppard Robson.jpg

Location: 1 Creechurch Lane, City of London.
Developer: Helical
Contractor: Skanska
Architect / Photography Client: Sheppard Robson

Still playing catch up with the long list of projects I have photographed over the past year, here is another from the neglected archives - which really should have received attention much earlier, alas a hectic work schedule prohibited my bringing it to your attention. One Creechurch Place is a rather large - 25,315 sqm to be precise - modern, office development located on the eastern edge of the City of London. While not yet obtaining a fancy epithet of its own, unlike those imaginatively designated to the company it sits in; The Scalpel, Gherkin, Cheese-grater et al. the building is just about large enough at 18-stories to make its presence known. Designed by London based architectural practice Sheppard Robson the building was completed in late 2017, which is around the time when I was commissioned to photograph the project.

One Creechurch Place Sheppard Robson 2.jpg

To disperse the buildings bulk it takes on the form of a cluster of towers varying in height, each adorned with horizontal and vertical fins which deviate in their rhythms of appearance. This external matrix tracing the facade lends the building a modernist aesthetic reminiscent of GMW Architects 1969 building, St Helen’s Tower, also know as 1 Undershaft, which is located just a short walk away. As can be seen in the above photograph a canopy is created over the main entrance where just beyond a public space exists, this area hosts temporary installations and sculptures as part of the City of London’s cultural programme.

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According to the architects Sheppard Robson the building’s ‘principal cladding system is a unitised, interactive double skin – a double-glazed inner layer, single-glazed outer layer and an operable blind in the cavity between.’ Which ‘allows control of solar gain and optimises natural daylight within the offices.’ It is environmentally friendly considerations like this that enabled the development to achieve a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating, keeping it in line with the innovative requirements needed of new buildings in the City. Moving Internally the building features a number of perks for the tenants, with the lobby area accommodating a cafe and the basement floors housing high-quality changing rooms, shower facilities and a generous parking facility for bikes.

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The buildings refined external austerity makes it a somewhat humble addition to the City of London’s ever evolving skyline, which to date has been a breeding ground for a cacophony of architectural peculiarities each trying to out compete each other to gain the crown bestowed on the most irregular form. One Creechurch Place has been designed within the boundaries of height restrictions that need to be adhered to for its location, making use of subtle shifts in form to accommodate this, while still maximising floor-space for the developer Helical. It maybe be that more reserved additions like this to the City will help balance out the skyline, making it more coherent and less flamboyant.

The London Design Museum by John Pawson, OMA and Allies and Morrison by Alex Upton

London Design Museum Interior by John Pawson. Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

London Design Museum Interior by John Pawson. Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

Location: Kensington High Street, Kensington, London
Developer: Ilchester Estates and the Design Museum
Contractor: Mace
Architect: John Pawson, Allies and Morrison, OMA
Photography Clients: Troldtekt & Abet Laminati

In late 2016 the London Design Museum opened the doors to it’s new premises in Kensington, located just on the periphery of the then autumnal setting of Holland Park. Having outgrown their previous home on the riverside in Shad Thames - now occupied by Zaha Hadid’s architectural practice - they museum opted for the grade II listed former Commonwealth Institute building to become their new home. Having stood unoccupied for a number of years, the building, with its iconic copper roof and parabolic form, provided a perfect shell for the architects to work with, as well as embodying the nuanced design sensibilities which the Design Museum aspired to present to the visiting public through its collections and exhibitions.

London Design Museum Central Atrium

London Design Museum Central Atrium

A team of several architectural practices were enlisted to work on the project with John Pawson taking responsibility for the Interior space and both OMA and Allies and Morrison handling the refurbishment of the external structure. The extensive works carried out by the contractor Mace and structural engineers Arup, included a significant reconfiguration of the structure and excavation of the basement to increase floor space. To meet modern building standards the external facade had to be completely replaced, while still retaining the blue-glass appearance of the original building.

The Permanent Exhibition Space on the Upper Level

The Permanent Exhibition Space on the Upper Level

Over a year after its initial opening I was commissioned by the client Troldtekt in the Spring of 2018 to photograph the London Design Museums Interior spaces; public viewing galleries, paid exhibition areas, library and research facilities and office space. Upon entering the building the first thing that greets your vision is the vast atrium which rises 4-stories and is capped by the amazing parabolic roof structure. Displays adorn the natural wooden walls, staircases and corridors emerge connecting the various levels of public exhibition space, while those heading to the basement level will find themselves in the chargeable, temporary exhibits.

London Design Museum Parabolic Roof Structure

London Design Museum Parabolic Roof Structure

The internal space created by John Pawson’s design team lends itself perfectly to the architectural photographers lens, with intersecting planes that frame the museum’s visitors and the expanse of space created by the atrium which exposes their activity at all levels. The permanent exhibitions of the upper levels detail the history of design, showcasing an array of nostalgia inducing gadgets extracted from the recent past and presented anew for our curiosity. These exhibits, not surprisingly, utilise a design aesthetic of the museums own making so as to distinguish information, ease navigation and engage its audience.

To see more images of the London Design Museum which I took during my visit, including some of the recent Ferrari exhibition please head over to my project portfolio, or better still plan a trip to the museum yourself, it is truly a wonderful space to explore.

Royal Mint Court Redevelopment by Sheppard Robson by Alex Upton

Royal Mint Court Showroom by Sheppard Robson 2017. Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

Royal Mint Court Showroom by Sheppard Robson 2017. Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

The Royal Mint Court building and its generous, fortified grounds occupy a rather large 5.23 acre site in central London. The historic building which served as the Royal Mint between 1809 and 1967 is surrounded by prestigious landmarks such as The Tower of London and Tower Bridge. In late 2017 I was commissioned by London-based architectural practice Sheppard Robson to photograph the onsite showroom they had designed in collaboration with their interiors department ID:SR Interiors. 

Showroom model of the proposed redevelopment of Royal Mint Court.

Showroom model of the proposed redevelopment of Royal Mint Court.

The Images of Royal Mint Court which I took capture the showroom displays; including 3D models of the proposed development, detailed information on the proposals along with interactive displays and writing on the sites historic context. There is also a pool room equipped with a bar and jukebox upon entering the building. The new development proposed by British property developers Delancey would be an office led scheme with the inclusion of new public spaces. While incorporating historic elements of the site it would also include the addition of several distinctively modern buildings.

Visualisations of the proposed Royal Mint Court development.

Visualisations of the proposed Royal Mint Court development.

Before further exciting any readers over the details of the proposed development it should be noted that the scheme will now almost certainly be revised as the People’s Republic of China recently acquired the site from Delancey and the LRC Group with the intention of converting it into their new Embassy. The buildings fortified grounds, heritage and central location all no doubt being driving factors in their decision to relocate there.

Conference area for potential clients and visitors.

Conference area for potential clients and visitors.

While it's disappointing to discover Sheppard Robson Architects' Royal Mint Court scheme will never likely see the light of day - especially after photographing its wonderful interior, which hints at what could have been - it is highly likely another grand scheme will follow in its wake as the rush to build landmark Embassies in the capital intensifies.

London's Aga Khan Centre by Maki and Associates by Alex Upton

The Aga Khan Centre King's Crosss London 2018. Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

The Aga Khan Centre King's Crosss London 2018. Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

Location: King’s Cross, London.
Developer: The Aga Khan Foundation UK
Architect: Maki and Associates (Fumihiko Maki)

Joining the ever expanding array of buildings which comprise the 67-acre, King's Cross regeneration scheme is the recently completed Aga Khan Centre. Designed by Pritzker Prize winning architect Fumihiko Maki and his Japan based practice Maki and Associates, the building contains offices for the Aga Khan Foundation's development organisations along with facilities for research and education.

Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

The building is typical of Maki's output being predominately a minimal affair, clad in white limestone and semi-opaque matt glazing, but on closer inspection you can see that it is punctuated at intervals with the ornate. This can first be observed at the main entrance where the large glass windows are decorated in a film of geometric patterns referencing Islamic art. These instances are then further repeated around the structure in the form of six courtyards, terraces and gardens which were inspired by Muslim societies the world over.

Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

The building is situated at the rear of the University of the Arts London, Central Saint Martin's campus, alongside Duggan Morris' pink R7 development. Inside the ten-storey Aga Khan Centre is 10,000 sqm of floor space, with the first floor, which will soon be open to the public, containing an exhibition area dedicated to Muslim cultures. The building’s gardens will also open publicly on the 22 September and are intended to act as an entry point to discovering and understanding the history and cultures of the Muslim world.

Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

Also housed within the building is the Aga Khan Library, which contains storage facilities for rare books and manuscripts. Users of the library can take their books and enjoy them in the tranquility of the Terrace of Learning - the second Islamic garden - located on the Library's upper level. Central to all this is a large atrium which rises to the top of the structure. Continuing above the Library are four floors of office space dedicated to the Aga Khan's education and development organisations. These include the Institute of Ismaili Studies, the Aga Khan University's Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations and the Aga Khan Foundation UK.

Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

As you approach the buildings rear you will notice there is still ongoing construction works, when complete in 2020 these will give rise to King’s Cross' Jellicoe Garden's designed by Tom Stuart-Smith. This area aims to produce a 'coherent collection of linked green spaces defined by their diversity and quality' and will reflect the Persian tradition of garden design.

Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

After capturing photographs of the Aga Khan Centre I was just about to leave when I noticed a beautiful, somewhat ghostly projection of light and shadow reaching up the rear of the building. Contrasted against the rigid, angular geometries of the physical structure these soft shapes appeared like a gentle fabric draped over the facade. This juxtaposition reflects the building as a whole, it is both minimal in form and ornate and detailed at intervals, the play between the two works harmoniously which is unexpected. This is yet another great entry into the growing number of quality architectural projects which forms the overall King's Cross regeneration scheme.

London Aquatics Centre by Zaha Hadid by Alex Upton

London Aquatics Centre by Zaha Hadid 2012. Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

London Aquatics Centre by Zaha Hadid 2012. Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

Ok, so i'm six year late to the party, but Zaha Hadid's London Aquatics Centre has matured like a fine wine and is still a elegant structure to photograph. Completed for the 2012 London Olympics the building has since undergone several external face-lifts. Long gone are the wing like structures that once protruded from the east and west elevation - providing increased seating capacity for the events - and now in their place are aqua blue panes of glazing.

London Aquatics Centre by Zaha Hadid 2012.

London Aquatics Centre by Zaha Hadid 2012.

These glass panels once afforded the public a blurry view to the inner sanctum where sweeping concrete forms, enveloping the amphibious inhabitants, could just about be discerned. Alas in one final transition to exclude all but those intent on getting wet from seeing this amazing structure an opaque film of aqua blue now lines the windows.

London Aquatics Centre by Zaha Hadid 2012.

London Aquatics Centre by Zaha Hadid 2012.

One of the most favorable changes to the exterior, whether intentional or simply a sign of neglect, is the revealing of the natural wooded surface under the once grey panels which form the sweeping, wave like structure of the roof. They now give the building the appearance that it is slowly succumbing to rust. Given its intended use and the allusions to waves that the roof suggests this is a fitting turn of events.

I currently have many new architectural photography projects to reveal on my site in the coming months so please keep checking back or follow me on social media to stay up to date.

The Sammy Ofer Centre by Sheppard Robson by Alex Upton

The Sammy Ofer Centre, London Business School by Sheppard Robson 2017. Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

The Sammy Ofer Centre, London Business School by Sheppard Robson 2017. Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

Location: Marylebone Road, Paddington, London.
Developer: London Business School
Contractor: Wates Construction
Photography Client / Architect: Sheppard Robson

London based architectural practice Sheppard Robson recently completed a major renovation of the Old Marylebone Town Hall transforming it into a new, expaned faculty for the London Business School. The Sammy Ofer Centre - named in honour of the late Sammy Ofer, the celebrated Israeli entrepreneur and philanthropist - contains many new facilities including six lecture theatres, 32 seminar spaces, a library, offices and student lounge. The projects most distinctive external feature is the new glass and steel entrance which links the Old Town Hall to the Annex buildings.

The Sammy Ofer Centre - Main Entrance.

The Sammy Ofer Centre - Main Entrance.

I was commissioned by Sheppard Robson architects to photograph several specific views externally, along with some interior shots that matched up identically in composition and framing to a series of black and white originals taken many years previously and held in the RIBA's photographic archive. Unfortunately I don't have access to these images presently so am unable provide side by side comparisons.

The Sammy Ofer Centre - Rear Elevation.

The Sammy Ofer Centre - Rear Elevation.

At the buildings rear are further contrasts between the old and new elements; in front of the new atrium is a lone retained arch and further down, an new angular limestone and glass curtain wall which nudges up to the original more ornate stonework. Housed within this new structure are the six lecture theaters, the largest two of which conjoin to create a space with the capacity to seat 200 students.

The Sammy Ofer Centre - Private and comunal study area.

The Sammy Ofer Centre - Private and comunal study area.

Sheppard Robsons' interior design team ID:SR worked on the buildings internal fit out which comprises new modern spaces alongside retained, renovated elements of the original Old Marylebone Town Hall. There is a level opulence befitting of the schools prestigious reputation and the new furnishings work in harmony with the more classical elements of the original structure.

The Sammy Ofer Centre - ID:SR's new furnishings.

The Sammy Ofer Centre - ID:SR's new furnishings.

The irregular floor plan of the original building, with its alcoves and long narrow corridors has been utilised by ID:SR to great affect; creating areas for private discussion and study alongside other more open, less defined spaces which are more likely to promote encounters among students and hence being conducive to the exchange of ideas and discussion - an integral function of a business school.

The Sammy Ofer Centre - One of the two main lecture theaters.

The Sammy Ofer Centre - One of the two main lecture theaters.

The new lecture theaters, of which there are six, are strikingly modern with wooden panels and strip-lighting traversing the walls and ceiling, ebbing out jagged contours which follow the dynamic alignment of seating below. All of this is reminiscent of some of the grand architectural designs found in modern philharmonic halls and theater spaces.

The buildings scale is hard to comprehend externally, compounded by the many divisions of its internal space to incorporate a variety of uses throughout. The fact that there is a harmony of contrasts within, and on the outside, is testament to  Sheppard Robson Architects careful and considered approach to the renovation. More images of this building can be found in under my projects.