Dowen Farmer’s east London communal mixed-use space ‘grounded in wellbeing’

This mixed-use ground-floor space at Wallbrook Garden is designed for use by residents living in the tower above. The birch plywood structure inserted into the space creates areas above, below and in between, acting as a centrepiece that helps create a multi-layered space where different zones are fitted out for residents to ‘focus (co-work), work out (gym), socialise (café) and chill (lounge)’.


The bright and highly glazed space is warmed up using a palette of natural materials, including plaster, cork, linoleum and recycled timber terrazzo. These materials complement the feel of the structure’s curved timber fins.


Architect’s view

This whole concept focuses on the idea of creating a variety of spaces anchored around one centrepiece. The timber pavilion is what gives the ground floor its identity, while also linking a variety of activities in and around it, all varied in their intimacy and engagement with the context.

There are a significant number of ground-floor mixed-use spaces on the market at the minute, and the brief was to create something different, a design statement piece with a sense of purpose. A sculpture with an engaging function.

Based at the ground floor of a newly constructed residential tower in Canning Town, Brunel Street Works transforms existing shell-and-core retail units into a first-class residential amenity space for the use of the building’s occupants. Grounded in the idea of wellbeing, an elegant birch plywood structure is inserted into the double-height space. The centrepiece helps create a multi-layered space where considered zones allow residents to focus, work out, socialise and chill.

The bright and largely glazed space is unlocked with a warm and natural pallet. Plaster, cork, linoleum and recycled timber terrazzo complement the soft feel of the curved timber fins. The opportunity to specify recycled and eco-conscious materials has strengthened the holistic concept of ‘wellness’ and created a space where residents want to spend time.


A gym and studio space is provided at the point of the building. Its location benefits from the lofty double-height space above, while bespoke free weight storage on castors can be used to subdivide the space and provide zones for classes and different fitness activities. Boutique changing room facilities are accessed below the pavilion. The use of bold and rich tones welcomes residents to pamper themselves in front of a generous vanity unit.

The pavilion can be considered as one large joinery piece used to accentuate the different functions of the amenity space. 45-degree curved timber pieces wrap up the internal walls into a mezzanine level, offering views out to the public realm and landscape. At this level, the plan and timber fin steps reference the existing building line. The irregular edge forms pockets of intimate space, a perfect place to engage in people-watching and to connect with the buzz of activity below.

Other smaller bespoke furniture elements continue to frame the experience of the resident. A family of planter desks borrow a similar language to the pavilion and are designed with varied functionality in mind. In the daytime, the desks can be used as the focal point for the individual to engage in personal tasks. At other times they can used by a resident to host and congregate with friends.

Two kitchen areas are located at key transition points enabling building occupants to get their coffee fix throughout the day. Loose furniture, soft furnishings and movable planters help add flexibility to the space, where these elements help create the perfect atmosphere for meaningful interactions, whatever the scenario.
Paul Bailey, project lead, Dowen Farmer Architects


Client’s view

The wellness concept for the project created different breakout zones for users defined by ‘focus, fitness, socialise’. This completely made sense -– these spaces are practical and what residents will actually use as part of an amenity offer. We would like to thank everyone who participated in the project and appreciate all the work that has been done. Marathon is really happy with the end result, and tenant feedback so far is great.’
Szabolcs Balasko, vice president, Marathon Fund


Source:Dowen Farmer Architects

Project data

Start on site November 2022
Completion date September 2023
Gross internal floor area GIA 496m2 (level 00 358m2, level 01 138m2)
Form of contract or procurement route Design & build
Construction cost Undisclosed
Architect Dowen Farmer Architects
Executive architect Dowen Farmer Architects
Client Marathon Asset Management
Structural engineer Green Structural Engineering
M&E consultant ME Engineers
Quantity surveyor Carter Jonas
Fire engineer Jensen Hughes
Project manager Carter Jonas
Principal designer Carter Jonas
Approved building inspector London Building Control
Main contractor Blink Global
CAD software used Revit 2022
Design life 50 years


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