CAN were commissioned by two artists to design a joint studio. Their different practices required very different work spaces, the sculptor required a big light-filled industrial workshop, whilst the print maker needed a smaller darker area to work with UV sensitive materials.
The site, nestled amongst gardens and industrial sheds along a small industrial mews in New Cross, London had an existing concrete slab from a previously commissioned studio that failed to meet the clients requirements. An 18th century wash-house once sat on the site, which along with one which still remains at the opposite end of the mews, served the houses that back on to it.
Rather than trying to find a common ground between the scales and requirements of each artist, CAN designed the studio as if it is two adjacent studios on the mews; a large industrial workshop and compact domestic studio, only revealing they are in fact one studio with shared amenities once inside.
The tiled volume houses the smaller working areas for the printmaker as well as the shared kitchen and bathroom pod. The steel and blockwork volume houses the industrial workshop. Internally, the two volumes are unified with the same material palette.
The gabled forms take their cue from the generic industrial shed and the 18th century wash-house once located on the site. The tiled gables are ornamented with a double crow step. The volumes are off-set to create an external working area at the rear which also brings southern light into the kitchen through a set of double doors. Rooflights are arranged on the north facing pitches to bring diffused light into the large space.
To maximise space with a limited budget the studio uses a combination of 'off the shelf' materials and materials the clients had accumulated from their practice. CAN looked to use these materials in such a way that elevated them from the ordinary to the ornamental, a theme which CAN have been exploring through other recent projects such as 'The Blockshop' at the RIBA. A mixture of new and collected scaffolding components form the lightweight roof structure which through its complexity becomes ornamental. Galvanized services sit on a muted concrete block to reduce visual distraction. A bathroom cube is tiled inside and out with a hidden door. Externally, the same tiles, topped with red concrete copings are used to clad the domestic volume. Industrial steel panels and concrete blocks signify the industrial shed. An antique pink arched entrance door and windows tie the volumes together and represent the flashes of colour present in the work of the artists. The front of the studio can be completely shut down for security with all of the glass located to the rear opening onto the small courtyard garden. One high level circular window punctuates the steel gable at the front.