The Repository of Stories
2016 - ongoing | media: building | location: Waterloo, London | scale: 400m2
This design aims to convey the key role of story telling in the teaching of literacy whilst increasing the usability and flexibility of the building. It defines a narrative quality through a dialogue between the beautiful original spaces and features one one hand and lightly oneiric and alive new elements.
The Repository of Stories is the redesign of the headquarters of CLPE, a charity based in South London that researches and trains the best teaching practices of literacy in primary education. Unusually for central London, this Arts and Craft building is entirely at ground floor as it was originally build as a School for children with impaired mobility in the early 20th century.
The first stage, now complete, includes redesigning the reception, creating two new offices and bringing disused original lavatories to use. In each case, colour is used to reframe existing and renovated features in a contemporary language.
The second phase, planned for 2018, will be for a redesign of the multipurpose Hall and corridor as a library for their extensive children books collection. The shelf space is maximised in alcoves around the room; these are shallow to maintain flexibility of the central open space for organising conferences and other events.
Inspired by the drawings made by book illustrators on a wall, a ritual has been designed that will regularly renew this space; every year, an illustrator will be commissioned to create a scheme to cover the flat colonnade that surrounds the Hall; the ephemeral fresco is fixed to the end of the bookcases. This drawing will be scanned, enlarged and printed on wallpaper that will be glued on the colonnade; it will be alike to the skin that renews itself and thus is always new. The performance of this process will simultaneously strengthen the relationship between the centre and book publishers and illustrators. The design of the space and the ritual thus strengthens the network, and resilience, of the centre.
The third phase transforms the existing schoolyard to give the impression that the ground, currently entirely covered with tarmac, is being taken over by nature, as if it was invaded by trees, and plants, as happens in fairy tales. A rain garden is proposed to create a sustainable water drainage system. This will both provide a gentler and poetic environment and increase the ecological value of the site in terms of species, environmental qualities and groundwater.
The project was developed starting with a democratic briefing process that successfully defined what needed to be achieved and built a buy-in from the entire organisation. The design was developed through a regular dialogue with the centre; it is this exchange that allowed the creation of the ritual.
We have gained listed building consent for the alterations to this Grade 2 listed building.