As far back as I can remember (I have lived here with my family for 23 years) The Goodsyard has been derelict – a block in the pattern of the streets. It has been a huge hindrance to those who live and work around it, with only one crossing point at Wheeler Street, or Braithwaite Street, as it is now renamed. Some in the past have tried (in vain) to occupy the spaces with temporary uses but these activities have not inspired any long term future. It is this aspect now that interests me as a local architect.
So it is with enthusiasm I agreed to be a part of this bigger masterplan to improve our neighbourhood, building on our knowledge and expertise of early- to mid-Georgian buildings and their creative re-use for contemporary life and work spaces. We have been commissioned to restore the character both externally and internally of the three listed weavers’ cottages on Sclater Street.
These buildings are currently in a poor state of disrepair due to an arson attack and are used as a canvas for graffiti in the area. The cottages have incredible historic significance as the last surviving remnants of a street of weavers’ houses. Weavers are one of the oldest London Trades and would have once been the only type of building on many of the streets around Shoreditch and Spitalfields.
Our project is to rebuild the cottages and turn them into offices, keeping the original layouts as the local listing states and building a brand new contrasting archway that includes another commercial unit, to be used as an entrance to the undercroft of the Goodsyard Arches.
Overall the scheme will preserve the Braithwaite arches, the oriel and the Sclater Street cottages and chapel buildings in particular. It is this preservation of the best of our past heritage that I am enthusiastic about whilst being mindful that we need to make the fabric safe and fit for purpose for the future life and business in Shoreditch.
With the new masterplan a network of routes will open up this ‘closed’ quarter of urban fabric in new and interesting ways, such as the old London Road that runs east-west along the railway cutting in a wonderfully arcaded route with a southerly aspect. It will also incorporate exciting new access points up onto the south facing park, providing a variety of community spaces to play, explore, love and learn about the historical context of the project and its relationship with the City.
A dynamic new place will be created providing 24/7 activity for live, work, and play. A diverse range of architects has been assembled to add variety and texture to the whole development. And with that, a new found freedom to walk under and across this forgotten landscape reminding us of the past, set in the present whilst looking forward with eager anticipation to a new future.