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City Frame. The Reappropriation of Maple House.

Part 1 Project 2014
Samuel Little
London Metropolitan University | UK
An incongruous meeting of fine Georgian masonry and rudimentary concrete frame, Maple House and the Wesley Chapel sit at a key moment in the historic, economic and cultural environment of London.

A former warehouse, office and news agency building, Maple House was constructed in 1967. Its original construction bears no relation to the unique nature of its delicate Wesley Chapel neighbour, seemingly suffocating it and removing its presence from the city. The fragmented character of the site is heightened even further given its unacknowledged proximity to Bunhill Fields Cemetery, a historically significant space in the public life of the city.

This is an existing situation that harbours vast potential, yet underperforms on a tectonic, architectural and urban level. Reconsidering the role of this stagnant site my project looks at the value and life contained within this 1960s building; asking what it can give back to the city and proposing its reappropriation as a ‘City Building’.

Addressing some of the damaging effects of its original 1960s construction, the ‘Reappropriation of Maple House’ reintroduces the Wesley Chapel buildings back into the life of the city, protecting their presence as key relics of London’s non-conformist past. The reintegration of an unwieldy courtyard at the heart of Maple House became a means by which positive conversations between the new and existing architecture can be set in motion.

The new character of Maple House is defined by carefully judged reuse and demolition of the existing concrete frame. Robust and adaptable spatial relationships have been designed to give the architecture freedom from a specific and set program of uses, making the building culturally sustainable and giving the architecture the strength to endure. Use has been tested on a number of scales, but most comprehensively as an ensemble of University buildings on the cusp of the city of London.

Dividing up the existing concrete frame, three new buildings are proposed that work for their moment in the city. A new public spirit dresses the block and unique strategies give each of the proposed buildings a new role; from an urban scale through to a human scale.

The ‘Reappropriation of Maple House’ is a gift to the city, a proud, well-crafted and civic piece of city architecture, forged from the unsympathetic remains of post-war redevelopment.

Samuel Little

Prof Florian Beigel
Mr Philip Christou
Alex Bank
Sam Casswell
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