THE UMBRELLA FACTORY
This warehouse building sits at the heart of the vibrant multicultural area in London’s East End. Over time the building has made; umbrella cases (open/closed), then lampshades (light/dark) and finally it was used as a cloak workshop (warm/cold), by sheathing, either; an object, light or the body. Ultimately the express purpose of each item manufactured was to transition between two different states, in response contrasting circumstantial change.
Despite a restrictive budget LPA passionately persuaded the client of the significance of delivering a design which communicated both the building and the area’s characteristics. LPA’s design celebrates the fact that the warehouse’s products and the local population are, and have since the 17th century, been a predominantly migrant community who are adaptable, diverse and dynamic, necessarily responsive, in transition, changing from one state to another.
We entirely re-configured and refurbished the existing building and created two new floors for 4 double height penthouses. The new top two floors tangibly contrast and ‘sheaths’ the older building. LPA took a simple but symbolic detail from the historic fabric, the Crittal window panes (light/warm/open), which appear to transition from the original fabric of the building, changing in scale and geometry as the window panes ‘drift’ up across the surface of the new top floor envelope, finally breaking free, blending and disappearing into the light of the skyline.