Old Spitalfields Market
Old Spitalfields Market
ne of London’s oldest markets, Old Spitalfields market is a historic Victorian structure located in the heart of East London, known for its collection of artisan food stalls and boutique fashion shops. Originally built in 1875 as a wholesale market, it rapidly expanded into a large collection of stalls selling fresh produce. After the City of London obtained direct control of the market, it underwent 18 years of sensitive renovation that saw the design of uniform collapsible market stalls that could be configured and restyled to suit the needs of each merchant.
As part of the second wave of remodelling, Foster & Partners designed additional permanent shop fixtures to house brands such as Chanel, American Vintage and Collectif. The IQ Projects team designed and installed the steel-framed doors and steel-framed windows to the units, which were configured in cubic structures to create an angular and uniform profile. Slim steel glazing bars were adhered to the double-glazed window and door panels, which created an elegant cross-hatched effect. The resulting overall aesthetic seamlessly integrates with the industrial style of the original market building.
Industrial style designs in commercial projects have become increasingly on-trend, and are particularly popular in the design of new and refurbished London offices. The style encapsulates the meeting point between historic charm and modern elegance. Materials with a neutral palette are chosen for both their functionality and stylistic appeal, with sturdy and sleek metals such as the steel used in the Spitalfields project presenting a popular choice.
Steel frames are worked by hand to meet the architect’s exact specifications, and the joints are welded by hand to create a seamless finish, all of which results in a unique, artisan finish, in line with the carefully crafted boutique stalls housed within the market. This aesthetic also alludes to the rich industrial history that is particularly associated with Spitalfields’ London location, thus preserving the original character of the market.
The use of steel in the renovation has the added benefit that when exposed to the environment, it naturally ages and darkens with time, evolving alongside the traditional industrial finish of the older and more weathered exterior building structure. This makes it a great choice for adding a modern feel to the site, whilst also reflecting the historical nature of the renovation.
Finally, low iron glass was specified for each of the steel windows and doors to ensure a clear appearance and to maximise light transmission. Reduced iron levels remove most of the green tint that is found with thick glass structures, particularly when viewed at an angle. This was important given the large elevations of glass used across multiple walls of each shop unit, therefore promoting a clearer sightline for customers viewing the shops from the outside.
The refurbishment was completed in 2018, cementing Spitalfields’ position as one of London’s most vibrant and eclectic shopping destinations for Londoners.
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