Towards the end of last year I photographed the Nobu Hotel in Shoreditch in association with Project Pictures.
Sitting happily among Shoreditch’s re-purposed warehouses and factories, Nobu Hotel is a bold architectural statement whose marriage of complexity and urban generosity delivers a global destination in the heart of London’s most vibrant neighbourhood.
Occupying a tight urban plot, the hotel follows the street line and accents its strong linear form with horizontal steel and concrete fins at each floor level. A playful, informal grid of board-marked concrete panels and generous full height glazing expresses the range of activities contained within the hotel, dematerialising at its sloping southern end to give sculptural presence to a lush sunken pocket park.
The original architects of the scheme, Ron Arad Architects, were appointed in 2011 to design the new Nobu Hotel in Shoreditch, gaining planning permission in 2012. The original scheme featured overhanging floor slabs, and cantilevered steel beams forming a frayed edge to the east, where a landscaped garden is terraced to provide natural light to the lower restaurant space. Ron Arad Architects left the project in 2013. Ben Adams Architects were appointed by Willow Corp in December 2013 to develop the design and complete the project.
Subtle material cues demarcate the public and private layers of the hotel. Refined bronze portals signal the hotel and restaurant entrances. Overlaying its raw concrete frame, timber, echoing the hotel’s concrete cladding, creative textiles and warm fabrics create an earthy, elegant aesthetic that delivers a variety of moods in its public spaces. This materiality creates a seamless link between the double height bar/restaurant in the hotel basement and the landscaped garden that adjoins this space. Sliding bamboo screens sandwiched within the hotel’s glazed cladding give flexible degrees of privacy to the suites that overlook the sunken garden and the 150 bedrooms occupying its upper floors, while maintaining a strong sense of harmony with the building’s architectural treatment as a whole.
At the end of last year I photographed the new ICON Outlet at the O2 for CallisonRTKL. The opening of ICON Outlet completes CallisonRTKL (CRTKL) and the clients’, AEG and Crosstree’s, vision to deliver an unparalleled leisure and entertainment district for London – a place where retail and leisure converge. The development will complete the circuit within the Entertainment District to create a 360-degree visitor experience that not only supports the main arena events but has the critical mass to be a customer draw in its own right.
“The retail world is ever-evolving, the focus on the curated experience is a real shift of approach. Shopping destinations are now seeking new leisure experiences to attract, activate and energize their existing offer. What we have here is one of the most iconic leisure destinations in the world, anchored by the world’s favorite arena. We believe that the addition of the ICON Outlet is the final critical piece that will not only transform the O2 but in its own right create a new paradigm,” said Nathmya Saffarini, Senior Associate Director at CallisonRTKL and thought leader in sports anchored entertainment districts.
The success of a mixed-use project hinges on activity. The more people are walking around, using the space and engaging with it, the more it creates an inclusive atmosphere and people want to be there. Creating spaces where communities can come together, alongside major entertainment destinations would ensure that the district will never ‘go dark’ and the different zones will offer varied, engaging experiences for visitors any day of the week.
New contemporary food concepts were curated for ICON Outlet to compliment the fashion district and deliver a true lifestyle destination.
The urban outlet has been divided into key themes, which the developers state reflects consumer trends and behaviour, from ‘Best of British’ highlighting quality and heritage to ‘Global fashion’, featuring premium brands from across the globe. Other areas include ‘Beauty and accessories’ and ‘Sports and lifestle’, offering some of the most exciting names in athleisure.
To complement the retail offer, Icon Outlet will also host a range of experience-led services, including personal shoppers and stylists, hands-free shopping, and unique event shopping packages.
CRTKL’s concept focuses on the creation of two unique retail experiences – the Petals and the Clouds – to correspond with the leasing strategy and the character of the space they occupy. The ceiling treatments within these spaces are a unique feature to the site, designed to create a sense of light, space and tranquillity. Clever use of LED lighting enables the tone and look and feel of the development to shift depending on the time of day.
“The two-storey mall section referred to as the Petals creates a sensory explosion of colour and form inspired by London’s fashionable retail streets. The canopy that runs along its street is designed to replicate the dappled shade of a tree-lined thoroughfare,” said Nathmya Saffarini, Senior Associate Director at CallisonRTKL.
The single storey section referred to as the clouds is designed to be a column-free retail space, the ceilings, roofs, walls are hung from the existing trusses in the space. It is a clever solution that gives the client the flexibility to move internal partitions as needed to meet retailer requirements.
“‘The Cloud’ is designed as a calming retail escape. It creates an ambiance of light and tranquillity with its immersive forms and cool colours. The ceiling treatment consists of a series of fins that envelops the space below,” said Nathmya Saffarini, Senior Associate Director at CallisonRTKL.
Designing the ceiling treatments was one of the most exciting challenges, the design needed to be lightweight, work with the O2’s smoke fire strategy whilst creating visual interest underneath the tent liner.
A second phase comprising another 32 stores on the lower level will open in Spring 2019. Being in the middle of a global city, it has an amazing residential catchment so an outlet would work in its own right but being in an iconic building, with river frontage, tourist attractions and the huge profile of its leisure offer Icon Outlet should mature into one of the very best outlets and should set the bar for others.