Laser House, the existing building at 132 Goswell Road, was built in the 1960s to replace a gin distillery. Rather than demolishing the existing building, we wanted to celebrate its architecture by re-carving and extending the structure. We knew instinctively that there was potential for something special because of the building’s history, its great ‘bones’ and an expansive floorplate - but also how it speaks to you through its scars. We’ve kept these features so they can contribute to the building’s next chapter.
Our refurbishment of the printworks primarily creates office space. Behind the retained façade, upward extensions to each of the existing blocks have created workspace for more than 850 people, including 5,000 square feet dedicated to small businesses. A new sunken courtyard brings natural light down to a flexible commercial unit of 6,350 square feet on the ground and lower-ground floors.
We followed a sequence of simple moves that celebrated the building’s raw gifts: Large floorplates, evidence of past histories and natural light. The retained super structure of the existing building is a concrete-encased steel frame construction with suspended concrete slabs.
A new super structure of Glulam column-and-beam frame construction with solid CLT floor slabs is placed on top of the building. The use of Glulam and CLT enabled more floors to be added while significantly reducing the carbon footprint of the building. The timber was sourced from sustainably managed forests and its use reduced carbon emissions by 48% compared to a steel structure and by 40% versus a concrete structure.
We unified the existing frame with this new extension to create a new sequence of spaces, with the 'art box' serving as a subtle architectural intervention. This new, double-height volume at first-floor level floats above its own active base and energises the public-private space at ground level.
Designed in collaboration with Formafantasma, the tiles used in the building's main lobby were made from Italian volcanic remains, creating a striking entrance to the building.