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A@W Newsletter

The Glory of Greenwich’s Design District

20 September 2023

Greenwich in south London is where you’ll find a new hub for creatives to come to work and play together in a series of buildings designed by cutting-edge architects.


by Helen Parton


Greenwich has had many significant milestones in its history with the new Design District helping to shape the next chapter. To give some historical context.


The foundations for the world famous Royal Observatory, the physical home of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) were laid in 1675 based on a design by Sir Christopher Wren. Fast forward over 300 years, the Millennium Dome, now known as the 02, was intended as a celebration of innovation when it was built at the turn of the twenty first century and designed by the practice then known as Richard Rogers Partnership.


The Greenwich Design District comprises 16 buildings in total, showcasing a range of contemporary architecture. Image © Taran Wilkhu


Hop off the Tube at North Greenwich and across from the 02 is Greenwich’s newest architectural addition: the Design District. Made up of 16 buildings designed by eight architects, it offers permanent and purpose-designed workspace for the creative industries.


The interior of Building D1 by Architecture 00 features a mix of workspace settings. Image © Alex Upton


Established over a few years, one of the latest openings is the expansion of members club Bureau into a second building by Architecture 00. The initial Bureau HQ can be found at Building C3 and is the work of HNNA architects which has an undulating white facade. Internally, this has been used to create various pockets of space throughout the workplace. On the ground floor a vivid red ‘salon’ provides a quiet space with rectangular sofas paired with curvy tub chairs with Bureau’s restaurant on the same level. The floors above have generously proportioned windows offering views across the entire District and provide a mix of private offices and hotdesking


Architecture 00’s work at the adjacent Building D1 takes the form of a dramatic concert structure where the ceiling heights get lower on each floor. Industrial finishes such as exposed breezeblock are contrasted with more residential-inspired areas such as the Lounge with its easy chairs and sheepskin rugs. Describing the concept, Design District director Helen Arvanitakis says, “Members’ clubs must not be the reserve of privileged white men. Bureau is open to everyone in the creative industries; it’s a place where we encourage anyone who wants to connect to do so. It’s more about what you know than who, and recognising the value that has for your colleagues in the creative industries.”


Spanish architects SelgasCano are responsible for the Greenwich Design District’s Canteen which offers a range of street food options. © Taran Wilkhu


This egalitarian concept is shared across the occupants of the other buildings which range from music producers to florists and from games developers to ceramicists. Greenwich Design District is also a showcase for contemporary architecture. Mole Architects is responsible both for Building D2 which has an iridescent metal exterior which reflects a spectrum of colours reminiscent of a gas flame with exposed wooden ceilings and beams and also the Ziggurat-shaped Building C2 with its distinctive CorTen weathered steel cladding.


The Greenwich Design District even includes a basketball court. © Taran Wilkhu


Building A2 by 6a Architecture has inclined diamond-shaped windows which bring substantial natural light into the building’s workspaces while Building B4 by David Kohn Architects has a vivid green metal grid defining the squares of red brick and glass blocks. For downtime, Spanish architects SelgasCano has created the bulbous-shaped Canteen while basketball enthusiasts can enjoy a hoop or two in the complex’s rooftop court. The different architectural styles provide a stimulating place of work or inspiration for the daytripper alike.

The Glory of Greenwich’s Design District
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