Mark Fairhurst Architects has developed a design for a new, 101 room boutique hotel in Tower Hamlets for Ziser London. The site, on Commercial Road between the Isle of Dogs and City of London, currently consists of a group of grade II listed buildings which have functioned as townhouses, a maternity hospital, a Victorian college, and later converted into the Steels Lane Health Centre. The proximity of this location to the city centre, combined with the existing lack of hotels in the old east end, makes this development particularly unique and exciting. This boutique hotel would be an innovative take on the traditional luxury hotel experience, offering guests a combination of private rooms and communal spaces.
Historically, the early 19th century Regency period houses, in yellow London stock brick with stucco detailing, functioned as the East End Mother Home from 1889. The adjacent church training college for lay workers, built 10 years later, incorporates red brick and terracotta detailing along with a chapel with trefoil headed windows to the rear; therefore sensitivity toward the historical integrity of the building was paramount throughout the design process.
The key challenge was to convert the existing listed buildings that have been significantly altered with an unsympathetic lift extension, disabled ramps, car park and corridors breaking through existing party walls. The new hotel is to incorporate a range of room sizes with private ensuite bathrooms and communal facilities including a reception, lounge, refectory and garden. Integration of the new accommodation shall prevent undue compartmentalising in order to reflect the original plan form of the building. Improvements are required to ensure step free access, along with an effective transport and servicing strategy. Building services had to be reassessed and a new sustainable design approach developed.
The plan form of the original buildings will be respected with the reinstatement of the party walls, light wells and stairs to the town houses. This was facilitated by the linking of the houses to the communal areas via a new courtyard, creating annexed accommodation. New passenger lifts are introduced to the main staircase, rear range and courtyard. A new mansard roof extension is proposed to one of the houses and loft conversion to the former college. An infill terrace extension with integrated carriageway would extend the accommodation linking with a new basement. Closet wings are proposed to the former houses to help reinstate room proportions to the main building.
The restoration of the existing building would enable retention of embodied carbon in the existing buildings. New insulation and double glazing will improve heat loss along with ventilation heat recovery and air source heat pumps. New landscaping including green walls and roofs will improve urban greening.
The design approach carefully examined the existing structure to eliminate non-original and minimise new structural alterations where appropriate. The new basement links with the light wells to the original building reinstating the existing facades and respecting the historic fabric. The project would provide a means to beautifully restore the existing listed buildings whilst transforming the layouts to create a unique boutique hotel, safeguarding the heritage of the historic buildings and surrounding conservation area. The proposals have been submitted for planning and listed building consent.
Ziser London is confident that the transformation of the former hospital into a vibrant, innovative hub for visitors will secure the future of these historic buildings, guaranteeing investments and jobs for the borough.
Client: Ziser London
Architects: Mark Fairhurst Architects
Planning Consultants: First Plan
Heritage Consultants: Cogent Heritage
Structural Engineer: Elliott Wood Partnership
Services Engineers: MLW
Visualisations: Line Creative