The store at Covent Garden occupies the first three levels of a nineteenth century hotel and adjacent warehouse building, facing the historic market square designed by seventeenth-century architect Inigo Jones. Three primary objectives guided the design process for this store: respect and restore the original building fabric as a site-specific backdrop for the products on display, bring order and unity to the highly compartmentalized interior, to insert deliberately modern elements into the historic backdrop to reinforce contrast between old and new.
The building’s interior has been restored to its essence, revealing the hallmarks of its Victorian era construction: wrought iron beams, rustic brick walls, concrete deck. Through careful stripping and cleaning of interior wall surfaces, order was brought to the previously unconsidered arrangement of plastered, painted and unfinished brick surfaces.
A few carefully selected building alterations connect the building to its urban context. At the entry portico, a series of glazed storefronts face outward to the public square and market hall. Inside, doors and windows facing what was once the exterior delivery forecourt for horse-drawn carriages were removed, creating large portals looking inward and upward through a new skylight in this central atrium.
Carefully positioned glass elements unify the complex configuration of rooms in this three-story retail store. Upon entering the building, a spiral glass staircase set against a brick backdrop announces the client’s innovative presence within the historic interior. A delicate, crisp stainless steel skylight caps the former delivery forecourt. Deep within the building, a glass stair and elevator have been inserted in a restored light well. Together, these brightly day-lit, multistory spaces create order within the existing interior.