BuckleyGrayYeoman Completes Refurbishment of Former Wickham's Department Store in Whitechapel

BuckleyGrayYeoman Completes Refurbishment of Former Wickham's Department Store in Whitechapel

BuckleyGrayYeoman has completed the refurbishment of the former Wickham's Department Store on the Mile End Road in London's East End, on behalf of Schroder UK Real Estate Fund. The completed space, known as Dept W, has restored the building to its former glory whilst creating a contemporary workspace-led, mixed-use development of nearly 110,000 sq ft.

Dept W now provides 56,000sqft of stripped back Category A workspace across three upper floors, which are complete with new outdoor roof terraces and planting on each level. A reception space, café, auditorium, meeting rooms, and gym sit on the ground floor and basement of the space.

BuckleyGrayYeoman has retained and conserved the Wickham's building's famous 'missing tooth': the Spiegelhalter's façade, which became the focus of a local conservation campaign when plans to refurbish the building were announced in early 2015. The Spiegelhalter's façade now forms the main entrance to Dept W, with the void where the shop once stood forming a courtyard that will feature bespoke artwork to commemorate the unique story of the site.

"Owing to its David and Goliath story, at Dept W we inherited a wonderfully rich, layered building," said Amr Assaad, Associate Director of BuckleyGrayYeoman. "We sought to embrace this history by unearthing and celebrating original features. New additions are proudly modern and breathe life into the space, beginning a new chapter for this iconic building.

"Dept W now provides a unique, high-quality, social workspace to an area of London which is quickly emerging as one of the capital's new business and tech hubs."

Dept W began life as the Wickham's Department Store, which on its opening in 1927 was proclaimed by its owner as "the Harrods of the East". The department store occupied the building until 1965, when it closed and the building was divided up between several different occupiers. The building has since been returned to single ownership and despite years of neglect, the quality of the grand Beaux-Arts façade means that the refurbished building will have an unrivaled presence in the local townscape.

BuckleyGrayYeoman was appointed in late 2013 to design the refurbishment of the building, working with the previous owners. SREF subsequently bought the building in 2014, and worked with BuckleyGrayYeoman on a new design, amending the original planning permission.

BuckleyGrayYeoman's refurbishment has radically improved the appearance and layout of the building. Piecing together a space which was previously separated by the Spiegelhalter façade, the third-floor interiors have been remodeled and rationalized with a sensitive glass infill, creating a continuous office floor. The original stonework façade has been repaired, removing the accretions of pipework and other services that have been added piecemeal over the years to restore the building to its former grandeur.

The new design has stripped out outdated office elements and inefficient services. Features such as the original hardwood floorboards, balustrading, and domed glass ceilings have been sensitively retained throughout the building, referencing Dept W's charming history.

On the ground floor, the building's three retail units will be upgraded, with new steel framed windows and discreet signage more in-keeping with the original design of the building.

Photography: Lewis Khan

filed under: Architecture
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