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In 2015, Squire and Partners, a large architectural practice in London, purchased a dilapidated Edwardian department store in Brixton, London. The department store was to be the new offices for the 220 staff members of Squire and Partners.
Squire and Partners approached us to build a new oak framed roof top area on top of the existing three storey department store in central London.
As you might expect, this was not a straightforward or a conventional project – building on top of a three storey building came with complications, but nothing we couldn’t overcome!
We used a crawler crane that was dismantled, hoisted up to the roof and put back together again. The 50 tonnes of oak that was used in the project was also hoisted onto the roof. In busy London, this was no mean feat!
The new roof top space on the fourth floor, provides a wonderful social space which includes a bar, lounge and dining area which opens out onto a landscaped roof top terrace.
The rest of the building provides an incredible backdrop to the work of Squire and Partners, with layers of history on the walls and the original steel frame left exposed.
Upon opening, the building claimed not only to be the first purpose-built department store in the UK, but also the first steel frame building. In 1926, the business was absorbed by Selfridges, before being bought up by the John Lewis Partnership in 1940 and was also used as an air raid shelter during the Second World War.
Continuing to trade under the Bon Marche name right up until 1975, the building slowly declined until being declared 'derelict' in 1981. Following investment by British American Tobacco, the building gained a new lease of life in the late '80s, helping to kickstart the regeneration of Brixton Town Centre.