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Camden Workshop

London

Camden Workshop is a unique warehouse-to-family home project with a rare client brief, rooted in recycle and repurpose.

Once a disused warehouse-come-art studio for a notable sculptor, McLaren.Excell worked with the client to remodel and increase the volume of the building and its usage potential, with a ground floor that is the truest definition of a ‘living room’, a fully adaptable 2200 sq ft space that changes guise depending on requirement.

Largely retaining its original facade but with a strikingly juxtaposing new metal extension, the four bedroom, four bathroom home is spread across two floors with a large garden to the rear. Increasing the size of the property by over 500 square feet from (approx’) 5,900 sq ft to 6,540 sq ft, with a typically and identifiably McLaren.Excell in design rear facing extension, the ground floor of the property houses apportioned spaces for, weaving, with original loom and yarn rack, photography, art, therapy, fermenting, candle making, joinery workshop and more. The clients, inspired by the healing properties of craft and making something by hand, wished for the primary floor, which has 3.2 metre ceiling heights and glazed doors measuring 4m wide, to be fluid in function.

Construction and materials used throughout the build were to mitigate the impact on the environment and retain original, exposed raw and natural materials throughout. A directive from the client but also a signature of the studio, adding specialist finishes that only serve to further celebrate the elements like the brick work, wooden beams or plasterwork. McLaren.Excell champions retention and retrofitting as a sustainable building practice for existing structures. All the floors in the project are constructed using recycled timbers and the building’s original floors have been recycled and form the feature panelled walls in the hall and bedroom-entry space on the first floor.

There’s unity in the earthy, natural colour tones used throughout the property, though with a noticeable change in character tempo between the ground and first floor. The large glass windows and doors are a repeat theme, framing the wild garden – complete with beehives – beyond, with the first floor boasting windows that measure 3m tall.

Through design features McLaren.Excell has been able to meet the desire of keeping the upstairs feeling open and the view of the garden and outside always accessible by introducing walls and doors that move and can be entirely opened flat in order to allow a straight line of sight to the garden and city rooftops beyond.

The stairs, crafted as a one solid feature in hot rolled steel create the feeling of transition. Ascending into the kitchen, dining and informal sitting area of the home which is warm and inviting. Lime washed exposed original brick walls, with flaws celebrated throughout, combined with the 3.5 metre solid travertine island in the kitchen and the Douglas Fir cabinets reinforce the celebration of all natural, elemental design.

The garden is a botanical oasis, respite from London’s busyness. Championing biodiversity with beehives, a pond and a palette designed to encourage butterflies, bees and other insects, it is a wild and whimsical scape. The movement and relaxed form of the grasses and the colours of the bright greens and purples from the plants and flowers are a striking contrast to the grey brick exterior of the workshop. Melodically creating a kinship between nature’s hues and the earth-made materials in the build.

Commenting on the project Rob Excell, co-owner McLaren.Excell, said, “This project celebrates all that is  great about design, it’s a real representation of the journey and experience that we have with the client. Incorporating natural materials and with a directive to recycle and be ever mindful of materiality and sustainability, something we’re passionate about as a studio, it was great to be able to introduce an abundant number of materials in their raw state. The unassuming former warehouse exterior of this property betrays nothing of what’s behind the front door and there’s something exciting about that. Creating a home but also a space that is multi- function in its most extreme sense is a challenge, but as a designer of buildings and interiors with longevity and integrity as guiding principles, it’s great to think what these craft-oriented spaces could produce and inspire from those that use them.”

Soft Furnishings, Furniture Procurement and Restoration: Lucy Currell of Studio Iro

Photos: Rory Gardiner

Video: Yakob El Moussa

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