106 Commercial Street
Royal College of Art, London
Group Project : Beth Elen Roberts,
Yilun Li, Yanyn Yang, Xiangxiang Luo
A group led study of 106 Commercial street in East London, including a 1:100 scale model with removable elements, iPad sketches and photos from our site visit.
The area surrounding Commercial street is saturated in rich history. Towards the end of the 17th century, this diverse area of London became home to thousands of Huguenot refugees, silk weavers by trade, housed in humble working-class Georgian terraces.
With the growth of industry, these homes became slum-housing to house the large number of immigrants working in the clothing industry. With a dramatic rise in the population and abhorrent working conditions, the area’s industrialisation brought an abundance of social problems. In fact, the East end in this period developed a reputation for being one of the poorest, most over-crowded and crime-ridden boroughs of London.
A former 19th century stables, the site itself consists of a large three-tiered atrium, landlocked and located in the centre of an urban block, situated behind buildings fronting onto Commercial and Hanbury street. The structural rhythm of the building is maintained by the repetition of black, linear features such as the windows, period cast-iron columns and an intricate network of piping. This procession of repeated elements ties the space together, compensating for inconsistencies in the materials used and consolidating the addition of the new roof; a synthesis between old and new.
There is a sense of refuge upon entering the site as we close the door on the frantic activity of commercial street. However, the central courtyard acts as an acoustic ‘chamber’, and the hum-drum of city-life outside eventually pervades the space, reminding us of our context.
A gentle, fragmented light also permeates the space, casting beautiful, shifting patterns upon the walls and floors. It disperses and reconfigures as it is disrupted by passing traffic and pedestrians.
Materials: Cardboard, laser-cut card.