Grainhouse Covent Garden, Hines London office renovation, UK capital building restoration, Architecture photos

Grainhouse Building Renovation in Covent Garden

17 Nov 2023

Design: Barr Gazetas

Location: Dryden Street, Covent Garden, London, England, UK

Grainhouse Building Covent Garden London
photos courtesy of architects office

Grainhouse Building, London

Barr Gazetas completes transformation of historic Covent Garden city block

Barr Gazetas has completed the refurbishment, remodelling and extension of a city block at the historic heart of Covent Garden, to create a Grade A workspace for client Hines. The transformational development, named Grainhouse in a nod to the site’s history as a seed merchant’s warehouse, comprises the careful stitching together of five separate historic buildings around a new centralised atrium. The development provides 67,000 sq ft of prime office space across five floors, including the new European HQ for Hines, as well as 23,000 sq ft of flexible retail and restaurant at ground floor and basement level.

Grainhouse Building Covent Garden London

Celebrating the rich and characterful history of the existing buildings, which once housed a brass and iron founders and a non-conformist chapel as well as the seed merchant, Barr Gazetas’s design retains all four frontages of the buildings and restores key original features including stonework, mouldings and brickwork and the Mercers Maidens, adorning Dryden Street, are again proud of their fabric.

Grainhouse Building Covent Garden London

The site had been earmarked for redevelopment for over a decade, but the complexity of the redevelopment and its context within the Covent Garden Conservation Area meant that several previous schemes were refused by planners or unviable. Barr Gazetas was able to draw upon decades of experience working with heritage buildings in Central London to create a scheme that would maximise the potential of the existing buildings whilst carefully preserving and upgrading the historic streetscape.

Grainhouse Building Covent Garden London

The site has been extended by two storeys, with separate but interlinked extensions on each of the five buildings responding to the massing and historic fabric of each. This allows each building to retain its distinct identity externally, whilst creating a seamless internal floorplate. These two new floors, which feature flexible office space as well as roof terraces with extensive planting, feature traditional slate mansard roof and timber dormer windows, with more contemporary full height curtain walling, and zinc & aluminium cladding. The extension to the old chapel building at the corner of Dryden and Arne Street includes structural glass windows that extend above the roof line, creating a striking modern addition to the building, and a landmark addition to this historic corner of Covent Garden.

Grainhouse Building Covent Garden

Barr Gazetas completed the Cat-B fit out for Hines’ new European HQ, collaborating with concept architect A+I. The three floors of this elegant new workspace are arranged around a striking spiral staircase, with extensive planting and a variety of green and blue tones creating a stylish, calming environment. Space for collaboration is prioritised, with huddle rooms and generous break out spaces, complimented by focus rooms designed for concentrated working.

As with all Barr Gazetas’s projects, sustainability was a priority, with an approach that retained as much of the original structure and materials as possible on site. The project’s embodied carbon totaled 320kg CO2/m2, a saving of 60% compared to an equivalent new build scheme.

Grainhouse Building Covent Garden

Grainhouse empowers responsible occupation with integrated smart technology and a bespoke app for environmental control. Designed to achieve BREEAM Excellent and WELL Platinum Certification, Grainhouse aims to reduce operational carbon and water waste through measures including state of the art heating and cooling systems, and low flow taps and showers. Occupants have access to a communal landscaped terrace with native plant species and nest boxes, spacious and secure bicycle storage, and extensive shower and locker facilities. The space supports hybrid working and employees’ desire for a diverse array of spaces for different activities.

Grainhouse Building Covent Garden

Barr Gazetas Director Jonathan Allwood said: “It’s rare to have the opportunity to work on such a large historic site in this part of London, with such an array of existing buildings to reinvent. We were able to draw upon our extensive experience of transforming heritage buildings in central London to design a scheme that retains and enhances the iconic streetscape of Covent Garden, whilst delivering a world-class contemporary workspace.

Grainhouse Building Covent Garden UK

Stitching together five distinct buildings into one seamless whole was a creative and technical challenge that we greatly enjoyed, and which demonstrates the potential for complex historic buildings to be transformed into flexible, light-filled spaces that more than meet the needs of 21st Century occupiers.”

Grainhouse Building Covent Garden UK

Lars Huber, CEO, Hines Europe, commented: “Grainhouse represents the pinnacle of Hines’ design style and model of investment, development and management, from the original acquisition through to the launch of this world-class headquarters building, which is a deserved home for our talented team.

“Our founder, Gerald Hines believed in pairing best-in-class design and engineering with innovative, sustainable and functional spaces to create remarkable buildings, and we are extremely proud to continue his legacy and introduce this next generation workspace and Hines European headquarters to the heart of London.”

Dryden Street workspace design by Barr Gazetas

James Souter, Director at Elliott Wood, said: “Grain House has stitched together and transformed five heritage buildings into one high-end, characterful workplace. Our engineering solutions were tailored to the unique characteristics and condition of each building, utilising the existing structure where possible to ensure the character of the existing buildings was retained. New interventions are considered and light touch, ensuring Grain House has all the quality amenities expected in this prime location but is sensitive to its context.”

Hines will be joined at Grainhouse by a fashion and beauty company, who have leased two of the lower office floors with a 10-year lease for 24,479 square feet of office space. The remaining office space will be occupied by Go City, the world’s largest attraction pass business, which has signed a 10-year lease for 6,568 square feet; and Helix, a specialist property management company, and a Hines Company, which has agreed a 15-year lease for 4,933 square feet within Grainhouse. At street level, the popular restaurant operator Caravan will be opening a two-floor 6,200 square foot restaurant in October.

Barr Gazetas –

workspace design by Barr Gazetas at Dryden Street UK

Grainhouse Building, Covent Garden, London images / information received 171123 from Barr Gazetas

Location: Covent Garden, central London, England, UK

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