Going to Print
This office led scheme by Derwent London is named after the late Richard Buckley, founder of one of the new wave of young design led architectural practices that sprung up in mid Nineties London. The Shoreditch based practice of Buckley Gray Yeoman continues to prosper under the leadership of directors Matt Yeoman and Paul White.
Derwent famously prides itself on niche developments in the capital’s “villages”, many of them in creative hubs (whether they always are before Derwent arrives is a moot point!). The Buckley Building may be just north of Farringdon Station, but true to form, it is on Clerkenwell Green which is about as villagey as Zone 1 gets. Commanding prime position at the elevated end of the square, The Buckley Building is next to the leafy gardens of St James’s Church and overlooks the alfresco seating of The Crown Tavern. Clerkenwell Design Week venues are all about.
Formerly a printing works, it’s an essay in 1930s refinement. Strong bands of render alternate with rows of long glazing between brick panels. It occupies an entire urban block so all four-and-a-half elevations are on display, each masterfully handled. The main entrance has been strategically relocated to the shortest façade which forms a canted bay with two of the longer elevations. At five storeys over basement, The Buckley Building is a typically low rise Derwent affair. The floorplates are large though, accommodating some 500 square metres of ground floor retail and 7,500 square metres of offices on the other floors. A functionless atrium and superfluous columns have been removed.
The refurb spiritedly recaptures the spirit of the aged original. Over to Matt Yeoman, “The design intent was to create a refined industrial aesthetic throughout. Crittall windows have been retained and restored. The internal brickwork was partly grit blasted and exposed. We’ve also exposed the concrete soffits on all the floors.” Now for Simon Silver, head of regeneration at Derwent London, “We dropped the raised ground floor by half a floor to create the classic lofty and welcoming Derwent reception. It’s reminiscent of a grand and timeless warehouse.” An eight metre long concrete reception desk and steel wall cladding inspired by the work of Richard Serra and Carlo Scarpa continue the industrial aesthetic.
A cat slide roof covered with great sheets of glazing swoops down the upper two floors transecting the north facing elevation and flooding the galleried offices with natural light. Most of the fourth floor is set back from the building line to accommodate south and west facing terraces. Richard Buckley always maintained that “design is a sensual experience and can create emotion across all human activity”. He could easily have been talking about The Buckley Building.