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Borough Yards, London

By George Spreckley
Borough Yards Image 03

Located next to the historic Borough Market on the banks of the River Thames in the heart of Central London, the recently completed Borough Yards development of new retail streets, cultural galleries and commercial office space is urbane and welcoming.

This riverside London location is all about historic, cultural and local connections. Next door to the world famous Borough Market, Borough Yards’ imaginative architecture reinstates the evocatively named Dirty Lane.

By reinstating the lost medieval street pattern, Borough Yards has been designed by SPPARC as a place that resonates with the blended work/play lives of modern urbanites. SPPARC has created an architectural typology which started from the principle that there should be pedestrian lanes within the block linking the river to the historic market through a series of connecting yard spaces and streets weaved through an impressive Victorian brick arched railway viaduct to optimise the public use and enjoyment of this special part of the City by repurposing 8,500sqm of existing railway arches alongside 5 modern buildings.

Borough Yards has taken its materiality inspiration of articulated, playful brick from the historic architecture of the area.SPPARC have worked tirelessly to ensure the rich Victorian heritage of the arches could be celebrated by repurposing the 4 of 5 cathedral like brick structures into exciting spaces and brought back to life with grand walkways welcoming visitors into a place where heritage and modern architecture successfully cohabit.

The project sensitively intertwines the new masonry building additions with the historic brick architecture of the site, using innovative brickwork to both subtly and boldly connect the old with the new by transforming a series of formerly disused warehouses, arches, and viaducts into highly innovative and attractive cultural, retail, restaurant, and workspace places to define the successful experiential high street of the future.

Alive day and night, Borough Yards is an unrivalled urban regeneration project that has sensitively through design excellence successfully stitched itself into the most precious of London’s fabric.

Largely hand laid, the colour pallet of brick is achieved utilising a buff clay, in tandem with a combination of production techniques. Some of the products have sawdust added to the outside of the clay mixture prior to the slop moulded process and this burns out during the firing process to give a more open textured appearance to the face. The sand utilised on other bricks has an inherent calcium content, and this gives these products a paler weathered look to harmonise seamlessly into the context.

Klinkers use a Hoffman kiln, the firing technique that this kiln utilises enables the factory to achieve the colour pallet within the Borough Blend, without the need to add any chemical additives. There were also a significant volume of handmade specials on the project, and these were utilised on the angular columns as well as the parapet details. Despite the overall traditional appearance of the brick, these specials needed to be accurate given that 5 planes of the columns would be visible from the elevated railway line.

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