FBM Architects have a long history working with organisations that promote skills training and crafts, so we were delighted to be appointed by one of London’s ancient Livery Companies following a competitive interview to create more accommodation for students attending the University of the Arts. The Worshipful Company of Cordwainers (leather workers) is now a registered charity which devotes a significant amount of resources to support those currently training to work with leather – in the fashion industry.
Our brief was to extend the existing halls at Cordwainers Court by utilising an adjacent infill site in the south-east corner of St Thomas’ Square; a short walk from the University of the Arts campus on Mare Street. The charity uses its assets to subsidise the residences; making rooms significantly more affordable than similar accommodation in London.
Created as a Georgian suburb of Hackney, St. Thomas’ Square has had a colourful history but now forms part of the Mare Street Conservation Area. Our design proposals, which received planning consent in December 2011 from the London Borough of Hackney provide 15 new, modern and comfortable study bedrooms within a contemporary but sympathetic addition to the square, that maximises the use of the infill site.
In order to keep rents affordable, the rooms have no individual en-suite facilities but adjoining rooms share a bathroom. There are several twin rooms in the new building, including two ‘penthouse’ apartments, complete with a balcony. The design of the building maximises views across the square and includes generous kitchen areas and communal space for group study.