01 juni 2018

Julian Opie #2

Julian Opie's studio, Shoreditch, East London.

"A first glimpse inside Julian Opie’s studio in Shoreditch, East London, does not reveal much about its recent architectural transformation. Its battered floorboards and hefty timber roof trusses could have been there for centuries.

In fact, hardly anything in this refurbished old furniture workshop, which has served as the artist’s base – and, for a while, live/work space – since 1987, screams ‘new’. Yet new it is, following a complete overhaul by Carmody Groarke in a process that lasted over four years. It is testament to the London practice’s masterful sleight of hand in merging old and new.

The idea for the project was born when planning permission was granted for a big new hotel in a plot just feet away from the studio’s back wall. Concerned about privacy and changes in light, Opie decided to take the opportunity and start a project of his own. The plan was to extend his workspace – outgrown by his studio team – adapting it in response to the construction next door.

Kevin Carmody and Andy Groarke were already his go-to architects and this would be the latest in a series of collaborations with the artist, the first being Opie’s London home back in 2006.
The Opie studio project called for a complete reimagining and extension of the four-level, mid-19th-century brick building, increasing space while safeguarding privacy. The architects’ solution was topping the existing industrial building with a profiled anodised aluminium sheet structure that captures and reflects daylight. The new design’s skylights ensure the studio’s creative operations remain out of sight from its neighbour, while light can flood in.
Inside, working with the building’s original character was important to Opie. ‘I did not want to lose the inherent mid-19th-century industrial qualities that remained; the wooden floors and beams, the steep, open staircases and tall windows,’ he says. The architects obliged, employing a soft touch and some skilful architectural handling. Any new floorboards are reclaimed, the roof and external openings were maintained and, while the interior was almost completely gutted and cleared from additions and tweaks spanning decades, the current composition feels remarkably organic and natural. The steel-beam addition at the back manages discreetly to increase overall floorspace by some 100 sq m.

Each floor was opened up to create spacious studio rooms and open-plan desk areas, and circulation was streamlined. Hints to the building’s past live/work use were carefully removed, and domestic areas were transformed into functional workspaces – the place is usually buzzing with up to ten employees.

"For the past two decades this building has been used as studios for the internationally renowned artist Julian Opie. The new studio project extended the building in order to provide additional studio space.

The existing site is composed of industrial buildings which have been constructed on an ad hoc basis in a number of different periods since its original use as a furniture workshop in the mid-nineteenth century. The project extended the existing workshop building with a series of new aluminium-clad boxes which bring daylight deep into the plan of the studios through roof lights."

Location: London.

(bron: Wallpaper* en Carmody Groarke, foto's: Johan Dehlin)

> Julian Opie

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