An Old Shoe Factory

An old shoe Factory

An old shoe factory has been bought back to life in a celebration of the old fabric of the building, softened with the textures and beauty of other natural materials such as clay and oak.

Studio McW designed ‘London’s coolest Work From Home Pad’ (The Times) for Jack and Alice of Earthrise Studio. Jack and Alice are documentary filmmakers and climate activists working to raise awareness of climate change through storytelling. Their films are about communities and environments on the frontline of global warming.

We adore Clayworks in our space”, said Jack. “It’s taken an otherwise bland wall and given it so much texture and warmth. We love watching how the light interacts with the clay throughout the day, the sense of atmosphere this brings to our home”.

Without re-using old commercial buildings, we will not be able to reach NetZero. Re-using an old building will typically reduce embodied carbon by 50-70% compared to building a new one. Clay plasters contribute to the fight against climate change by being very low in embedded carbon and containing no plastics or toxins – materials destroying our oceans. A new report by The GOES Foundation relates the impact of pollution on marine plankton biodiversity as a significant climate regulator.

Earthrise has recently released We Are Antarctica, exploring our relationship with the world’s southernmost continent. Telling a story of a place ‘crying out and breaking into pieces’, We Are Antarctica provokes heartbreak and hope at the same time.

By the Architects

Tucked within a historic shoe factory originally constructed in 1924, Studio McW took a light touch approach to enhance the building’s original features including large steel windows and trusses, exposed concrete beams, and a double-height pitched roof with overhead glazing.

Harries and Aedy briefed the architects to balance the historic building fabric with a new, natural interior palette, improve spatial flow and incorporate abundant storage throughout. The couple wanted a flexible space to host friends, dinner parties, work events, photoshoots, record podcasts, and support weekly team meetings.

Studio McW redesigned the entrance level, opening up the existing partitioned bedroom and dressing room to create a large aperture to draw light through the new glazed internal wall to the bathroom and utility space.

Reclaimed timber stairs lead up to an open plan living space. The architects stripped back a maze of redundant overhead services, opening up and increasing the sense of volume above. The floor plan was constricted by a large, defunct concrete doorway that created a bottle neck opposite balustrading. Studio McW removed this impediment and reorganised the layout, shifting the kitchen to the rear of the apartment to create flexible yet distinct zones for work, rest and dining.

Studio McW anchored the bright neutral interiors with custom oak and concrete joinery, cast in situ. The vast concrete island stands steadfast in the kitchen, doubling as a dining bench.

A long concrete sideboard with oak cabinetry and shelving runs the full length of the southern elevation; a multi-use feature offering seating, storage, and display for Harries and Aedy’s collection of art, photography, cameras and treasures collected throughout the couple’s extensive international travels. Much of the artwork and prints decorating the interiors were created by the couples’ friends, each piece imbuing the space with a strong narrative of friendship, creativity and passion.

True to Studio McW’s signature approach to craftsmanship and wellbeing, Earthrise Studio is finished with toxin-absorbing, matte clay walls which unify the two storeys and a custom black mild steel balustrade allows light to permeate the floor below.

David McGahon, Director, Studio McW says:

We paid special attention to the play of light and material junctions at Earthrise, a small but powerful way to respect the raw character of the original building while rejuvenating the spaces for modern occupants.


For more pictures please see our Case Study feature.