Complex structural refurbishment of a historical building in the central market plaza of Covent Garden. Features a carefully integrated glazed roof to enclose the courtyard and two structural glass staircases.
Westminster Society Biennial Award for Architecture
Originally built by William Cubitt in 1876, Bedford Chambers had experienced numerous alterations over the years. Our work on the property involved a careful restoration of the existing fabric, together with some radical insertions to make the building suitable to house the largest retail space of any of Apple’s stores. It comprises three floors of retail space, basement back-of-house facilities, and three floors of offices above.
Previous alterations to the building had been insensitively designed, with very obtrusive structural interventions. Much work was carried out in removing these works and replacing them with more carefully considered elements of structure. These were discretely integrated into the historic fabric, while at the same time opening up the spaces and strengthening where necessary.
Cast iron columns were cut down in some areas, with base details re-fabricated and re-attached to alter floor levels and improve ceiling heights.
A spectacular new skylight was designed over the restored internal courtyard to form the hub of the whole building. The top chords of the trusses were machined from single sections of stainless steel which integrated lighting, smoke detection and sprinklers.
Two glass staircases were designed, one a spiral and one a unique straight stair which sits in a newly enclosed lightwell, seamlessly hitting the London Stock brickwork walls around it.
‘It was difficult to imagine that the matchless central London ground of Covent Garden Market and the Royal Opera could be augmented by a retail establishment with similar magnetism, but the Apple Store has achieved that – with a replenishing yet sleekly modern design that richly deserves the success it has engendered’