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  • Bunhill 2 Energy Centre
  • GreenSCIES
  • National Automotive Innovation Centre
  • Institute of Transformational Technologies
  • Push-Pull House
  • Alder Hey Community Cluster
  • RHS Garden Hyde Hall Hilltop Complex
  • Blows Yard
  • Global Witness Workplace
  • 16 Winchester Walk
  • BFI Mediatheque
  • Central Building Refurbishment
  • Jerram Falkus Office Fit-out
  • Conkers Aerial Walkway
  • Eastfields Estate Regeneration
  • Spring at Stonebridge Park
  • Project Genesis Research HQ
  • Maitland Park
  • The Hyde, Hendon
  • RHS Garden Bridgewater
  • Artist's House, Brixton
  • Bristol Harbourside Building 3a
  • IVIC: BIMSpace
  • Queen Mary University of London
  • Holy Cross Primary School
  • Cherry Tree Children's Centre
  • Bristol Harbourside Building 4
  • Emerald Circus
  • Pontifex Wharf
  • Hide House
  • House in Hampstead
  • Baldwin Terrace Residential Development
  • Rosendale Primary School
  • Cryfield Energy Centre
  • IINM
  • Maggie's Newcastle
  • RE-Fab House
  • Guardbridge Energy Centre
  • City University London
  • Foundry
  • Shenley Academy
  • BFI Master Film Store
  • Palestinian Museum
  • Forest Gate Community School
  • Shahat Garden City
  • Kew Herbarium, Library, Art & Archives Wing
  • Brampton Manor Academy
  • Torriano Junior School Gatehouse
  • Institute for Sustainability
  • Evans Granary
  • Olisa Library
  • The Green Mountain Project
  • John Hope Gateway
  • Letchworth Transition Town
  • Stonebridge Hillside Hub
  • Chinese University of Hong Kong
  • Richmond Park Golf Clubhouse
  • International Digital Laboratory
  • Cambridge Conservation Campus
  • Bristol Harbourside Building 9
  • Bristol Harbourside Building 3b
  • Masshouse Block D
  • Gateway to Petra
  • Singapore Management University
  • Purcell School Music Centre
  • Barge Arm Development
  • Heart of the Forest Masterplan
  • Bristol Harbourside Building 10
  • Penarth Heights Regeneration
  • Li Ka Shing Library
  • Lewisham Young People's Centre
  • Centre for Mathematical Sciences
  • Education and Interpretation Centre
  • Downland Gridshell
  • International Manufacturing Centre
  • Millennium Primary School & Health Centre
  • Bristol Harbourside Masterplan
  • Faculty of Divinity
  • Private House
  • UEL Docklands Campus
  • Ludgate Hill
  • Chester Amphitheatre Hotel
  • Hooke Park
  • Pittville Art College Campus Masterplan
  • Archaeolink Visitor Centre
  • University of North Carolina Masterplan
  • Clach Mhor
  • St John's College Library
  • Goldney Hall Student Residences
  • Petershill House
  • Fountains Abbey Visitor Centre
  • BP International Group Learning Centre
  • Bedfont Lakes Offices
  • Charles Cryer Theatre
  • RMC International HQ
  • Farnborough Grange Junior School
  • Chilworth Park Research Centre
  • Morrison Street
  • MacIntyre Milton Keynes
  • Crookham Junior School
  • Beechwood Lodge Hostel
  • Copped Hall Offices
  • Lambeth Community Care Centre
  • Whittington Centre
  • Uplands Conference Centre
  • Westoning Manor
  • Winchester College Arts Centre
  • St Mary's Church
  • Royal Opera House
  • Calthorpe Park School
  • Charlie Chaplin Adventure Playground
  • Bradwell Common 2
  • Westmoreland Road
  • Leighton Crescent
  • Highgrove Housing
  • Olivetti's New Branches
  • Branksome Hilders, Olivetti
  • Garrett House
  • Bartholomew Villas
  • Minster Lovell Conference Centre
  • House on the South Downs
  • Camden Mews
  • Marvin House
  • Horder House
  • Bell Tout Lighthouse
View: Grid List
Cullinan Studio
London Borough of Islington
BREEAM: Excellent
Johnny Winter
Max Fordham LLP, Jerram Falkus Construction
CIBSE Building Performance Awards Finalist (2015) RICS London Award - Design Through Innovation (2014) AJ Retrofit Awards - Offices Under £5m (2013)
Building Knowledge (2017) Retrofit for Purpose (2014) Architects’ Journal (2012)

Our new canal-side offices at the Foundry demonstrate beautifully that retrofit can be as elegant and energy efficient as anything new.


In 2012 we moved into our new studios after radically transforming a dilapidated 19th century warehouse on the Regent’s Canal in Islington.

Our brief was for a mixed-use development: half the building was to be refurbished to become the practice’s new low energy offices over two floors, with rentable office space above; and the other half demolished and replaced by 12 two-bedroom apartments. 

We have created a beautiful and efficient workplace for ourselves – proving that retrofit can be as inspiring as new-build – but we are also using our first-hand experience of running a newly completed building as a research exercise. What we learn from investigating how users interact with their building after handover will be put to good use in our future projects.

"The completed building’s new structural skeleton supporting the creaky original fabric defines a space that is both pleasantly bespoke and inherently of its place. The interior is finished with simple and direct detailing, creating a calm and unpretentious setting for a design studio that takes pride in developing an architecture derived from the art of construction and the understanding of people and place."

Retrofit for Purpose: Low energy renewal for non-domestic buildings, Penoyre&Prasad, RIBA Publishing


The three-storey Victorian warehouse building that has become the Foundry is located on a narrow south-facing stretch of towpath along the Regent’s Canal. It falls within a conservation area and both the south brick wall facing the canal and the original timber roof trusses are locally listed.

Our design responds to the building’s canal-side setting and the listed structural elements that had to be retained. An added complication was that the south brick wall was leaning by 250mm from bottom to top towards the canal and significant structural works were needed to arrest movement.

The leaning listed south brick wall of the Foundry


The first – and decisive – intervention for the retrofit was a response to the constraints of the existing building: the leaning and locally listed south wall that needed stabilising, and its double-height windows. 

The structural solution that we devised was to insert a steel frame that interacts with the original Victorian steel frame and masonry. This stabilises the existing building fabric, including the south wall, and also supports the listed timber trusses. 

Steel shear walls articulate the two circulation zones that frame the studio spaces. A horizontal truss, with intermediate supports, spans between the shear walls, supporting the failing south wall and creating a void against it. This allowed the double-height windows to remain largely as they were. 

The street entrance on the ground floor opens into a mezzanine level office that looks down into a communal kitchen and more office space which is level with the canal. The double-height windows – enlarged as much as possible within the constraints of conservation guidance – provide light, ventilation and views onto the canal. 

The first floor is self contained and open plan, leaving the assembly of existing roof trusses undisturbed. The first floor has a particularly generous amount of daylight and cross ventilation. This was achieved by cutting the existing north wall off at first floor sill level, and hanging a continuous band of glazing from the new steel frame.

Since moving into our new studios we have been gradually turning the small strip of dirt next to adjacent out building on the Regents Canal into a garden for the community to enjoy. We reused the worktops from our previous office to make benches.

Our 'guerilla' towpath garden received an Islington in Bloom Silver Gilt Award for 'Best Forgotten Corner' in 2017.


Tackling energy efficiency in existing buildings is critical. We took a ‘fabric first’ approach at the Foundry and it leads the way for low energy retrofit. Although new foundations were laid to support the south wall, the fabric was retained and almost 80 per cent of the existing building was re-used.

The building has been refurbished to BREEAM ‘excellent’ standard. This represents a significant upgrade to the building’s environmental performance before refurbishment.

The walls, roof and floors are highly insulated: for the north and south walls a thick layer of blown recycled newspaper was used. After maximising insulation, and providing as much natural light and ventilation as possible, we employed low energy technologies to provide space heating and energy generation.

An air source heat pump provides domestic hot water and under-floor heating. Photovoltaic panels on the south slopes of the roof generate electricity, and mechanical ventilation with heat recovery services the toilets. These systems are controlled through a Building Management System, and energy performance and space temperatures are monitored through an internet-based dashboard. 

Environmental elements of the refurbishment project

Open House London 2018

Our studios are part of this year's Open House London weekend. We will be open from 11am to 3pm on Sunday 23rd September 2018.