Greenwich Design District, situated along the Greenwich Peninsula in London, is now entering its third year. Coinciding with the two-year anniversary of the creative industry office hub’s opening is the launch of another building on site designed by Spanish architecture firm SelgasCano. Fronted by rounded windows, B1’s unique facade contrasts its neighboring predecessors which are defined by more angular silhouettes.
Conceived just before the pandemic, the workspace neighborhood was readying for its first tenants just as creative industry professionals found themselves out of work or in need of cheaper alternatives to set up shop. Master planned by HNNA and developed by Knight Dragon, the creative neighborhood invited eight architects to design two buildings each for the site resulting in a hodgepodge of proposals. To protect views looking toward The O2 arena, all buildings in the Design District have been capped at four stories. All the designs are experimental in their use of material and form, among this a use of Cor-ten cladding, corrugated metal, and chunky brick pillars—and SelgasCano’s latest design is no exception.
SelgasCano’s first structure for the Design District, Canteen, is a low-lying pavilion at the site’s center wrapped in a translucent skin; a riff on the firm’s commission for the 2015 Serpentine Pavilion. Canteen houses a food hall and regularly plays host to events and exhibitions open to the public.
Similar to Canteen, B1 features rounded forms and was designed to be looked into and out from. At four stories in height, the office building is in line with its neighbors. Its facade is defined by floor-to-ceiling windows that swell out from the primary elevation. The curved glazing draws in natural light, an important component of the building’s use as a “winter garden”, in addition to a workspace.
Each of the four floors center around a core with an organic form and connects to the winter garden through a glazed walkway. A staircase fabricated with yellow structural steel and lined with net-like metal fencing doubles as a sculptural element.
The new office building adds 10,000 square feet to an already robust footprint of workspace that houses over 170 companies, ranging from one-man operations to large, global businesses. While conceived as office space for creatives, the area is very much for public use with a food hall, art pieces, movie screenings, and other events. In a report assembled by the Design District to coincide with its second year of operation, survey results indicated that 83 percent of tenants said being part of a creative community is why they set up operations there, and 61 percent said the Design District’s amenities have contributed to “an increase in quality of life.”