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Workspace of the week

Emrys Architects convert east London ironworks into a craft hub providing beautiful artists’ studios

A huge bank of bleachers acts as a gathering point at the centre of this studio complex created by Emrys Architects within a listed ironworks in the Isle of Dogs, east London. Built inside the former Millwall Ironworks, the two-storey birch plywood structure by London studio Emrys Architects contains studios, workshops and co-working spaces. Named The Forge, the rejuvenated building is now the headquarters of Craft Central, a charity promoting craftsmanship and providing affordable studio space.

Millwall Ironworks formed part of the city’s shipbuilding quarter on the Isle of dogs, a peninsula created by a dramatic bend in the River Thames. The docks were bombed heavily during the second world war, but the brick structure of the ironworks remained intact.

Within the timber structure are a series of self-contained studios that range from 8 to 27 square metres along with meeting rooms. There are also shared workspaces for craftspeople that cannot commit to a full-time studio. A bank of bleacher seating described by the architects as “integral to unlocking the whole plan”, provides access to the first floor studios and creates a social space. This full-height space at the entrance to the building is also used as an exhibition and event space, with large windows out onto the street helping to attract passersby. Additionally, a number of work desks have been positioned along both long walls which can be hired on a month-by-month basis.

Throughout the architects chose to expose services and structure to further “celebrate” the building’s original character, choosing birch plywood and galvanised steel to emphasise the building’s industrial past.

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