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  • Yazmin Malcolm

Modern with a twist – retaining features of decades past

It is no secret that at Built-ID we love buildings that tell a story through their architecture, buildings that have been modernised and restored but that still hold their history and retain features of decades past. Here are some of our favourite examples of Built-ID members who have successfully remodelled historic buildings to fit in with modern culture while ensuring the history of the buildings is preserved.

York Theatre Royal

York Royal Theatre

Theatre Royal - York

York Theatre Royal – De Matos Ryan (Click images to see more)

The beautiful and historic landmark, York Theatre Royal is based in St. Leonard’s Place, and dates back to 1744. The building recently had to be restored and De Matos Ryan developed a plan that kept true to the Medieval and Georgian fabric of the building by exposing elements of the original stonework. The building has undergone several alterations over the years, including the construction of a new foyer and a vaulted concrete pavilion, which now has heaps of natural light and a modern feel under the classic arches.

Unilever House, Blackfriars 

Unilever House

Unilever House Blackfriars

Unilever House – KPF, Perkins+Will, AECOM & Arup (Click image to see more)

We recently visited Unilever’s London HQ and were blown away by the redevelopment of Unilever’s Grade II listed HQ building. Originally completed in 1933, KPF was brought in to sympathetically redevelop the outdated configuration whilst retaining all listed features. By putting the working practices of Unilever employees at the heart of the design process, they created a flexible workspace that is also a landmark for sustainability. Measures such as the façade being upgraded by Arup to comply with building regulations for thermal performance earned the building a BREEAM Excellent score for its energy efficiency and conservation and reuse of materials.

The Ned, The City of London

The NED - City of London

The NED - London

The Ned – EPR, Elliott Wood Partnership, Gardiner & Theobald & DP9 (Click images to see more)

The Ned sits proudly in the centre of the City of London, a Grade I listed former bank given a new lease of life as a 5* hotel and members’ club. EPR Architects redesigned the Grade I Listed building; originally created by Sir Edwin Lutyens, sensitively restoring the building to emphasise Lutyens architectural trademarks, such as the stone spiral and marble staircases. The renovation transformed the old bank into a contemporary venue with a Gatsby twist that feels decadent and exciting, especially in the belly of the building, where a bar awaits behind the 20-tonne, 2m wide vault door of the bank strongroom.

The Department Store, Brixton

The Department Store - Brixton

The Department Store, Brixton London

The Department Store, Brixton – Squire and Partners, Davies Maguire & Colliers (Click images to see more)

We love it when architects allow the existing fabric and layers of history to inform their new design. This is what Squire and Partners did following their purchase of an old dilapidated Edwardian department store in Brixton. The entire space needed remodelling and restoring back to its former glory and staying true to the original framework was paramount to their vision. Space has now been utilised to best fit modern working needs: providing co-working spaces, cafes, bars, pop-up shops and even a rooftop social space. We especially like how Squire and Partners not only uncovered the original brickwork, stone, marble and terracotta but also saved the over 100-year-old mahogany and teak parquet flooring.


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