Devonshire Square / Fletcher Priest Architects / london + köln + riga | fletcherpriest
Devonshire Square  Rockpoint Group / CORE / O'Connor Capital Partners

Devonshire Square is part of an original complex of 18th century East India Company warehouses, a rare survivor of trading architecture in the heart of the City of London. They covered more than two hectares and employed 400 clerks and 4,000 warehousemen. Before the introduction of free trade, the Company held an effective monopoly with India and the Far East, and these buildings were its high-security warehousing. Goods transported from the docks along Commercial Road, partly financed by the East India Company, were deposited in these magnificent buildings.

The space between the warehouses is part of a busy pedestrian network, but very few people lingered. We were asked to improve the situation by looking at the space around the square to make it more amenable to those who pass through, and those who work there.

As part of a major renovation and reuse of the warehouses, we designed a delicate steel and translucent ETFE tensile membrane roof over the western courtyard, to create a year-round all-weather public space surrounded by new restaurants and shops. The load of the new roof had to be less than that of the steel cleaning structures removed from the buildings. Although more than 200 years old, these buildings with their robust brickwork structure and large rectangular floor plates have remained adaptable and suitable for reuse. The project has turned what was a little used and uninviting space into a hugely popular public venue.