Forge Arts is a mixed-use development comprising a 120-seat recital hall, a café/bar, restaurant and three studio apartments situated on a compact urban site in Camden Town, London NW1.
The bespoke building was developed for musician and restauranteur clients, and replaced a much loved local café. Early consultation with residents and planners meant the scheme went to planning with their full support.
The building is arranged as a pair of sister elements. The front part, clad in a dark brick, houses the café at ground floor, restaurant at 1st floor and apartments above. The rear part, in a paler brick, houses the recital hall in a simple top-lit volume. The two elements are linked by a double-height glazed courtyard with a green ‘living wall’ at one end. This brings natural light, ventilation and greenery into the heart of the building and is key to the low-energy strategy.
Full height timber clad acoustic screens making up one side of the recital hall enable the space to be opened into the courtyard adjacent, allowing it to be combined with the café and restaurant to form a much larger performance and events space.
Acoustics were central to the design, and the layout, volume and materials were developed in conjunction with Arup Acoustics, to ensure the building is robust, characterful and performs excellently acoustically.
"This is a careful response to the mess of Camden, bringing beauty, civility and culture to the place"
Client: Calyx Properties
Awards: RIBA Award, Civic Trust Award