Studio RHE completes Import Building: phase one of Republic, the next-gen workplace campus in East India Dock

Architect Studio RHE has completed the Import Building, the first phase of works at Republic, a next-generation workplace campus in east London aimed at creative businesses priced out of central London and Shoreditch.

Developed by Trilogy Real Estate and LaSalle Investment Management, Republic aims to stem the tide of young companies leaving London by creating 6over 50,000 sq ft of truly affordable workplace that meets contemporary professional and personal needs, with a focus on the core values of creativity, connectivity and affordability. The Import Building is the first building to complete on the campus in London’s East India Dock.

The Import Building has been fully refurbished and extended to provide 220,000 sq ft of high-quality flexible workspace. New amenities added to the development include an organic supermarket, a gym and The Gentleman Barrista cafe, as well as biodiverse outdoor landscaped Public Realm to create a vibrant new campus and neighbourhood. A six-storey high art work on the east facade by artist Scott King, titled Model of Utopia, draws on the work of 1970s cybernetics theorists to illustrate a model of a utopian society organised around the needs of the workforce.

On the Ground floor, a sleek, two-storey timber and steel-clad black extension has been added to the south-west corner. The design aesthetic continues along the main entrance façade, with the existing colonnade of the original post-modern building infilled with new glazed facades extending beyond the building line to create brightly lit, open spaces at ground floor level to accommodate dramatic double-height retail units. The redesigned façade is punctured by numerous new doors from the street – with sliding doors opening onto the newly designed atrium at their rear – to create a much more transparent and active street frontage. The existing building has been painted matt black to create a contemporary and cohesive design.

A new funnel-shaped, timber-clad entrance leads into the 10-storey atrium. Reconfigured through the insertion of a timber structural frame made from glue laminated beams and infill slabs of cross-laminated timber, the useable floor area has been increased through extending into and making better use to the atrium space. The exposed timber finish creates warmth, while a striking Mexico Blue staircase sits at the atrium’s heart. Prefabricated from steel, this faceted design leads to the first two floors, which open onto the atrium and the convenient location promotes stair usage.

The public realm that surrounds the Import Building is intended to be an urban oasis that accommodates both people and wildlife including hidden habitats such as bird boxes under seating, insects’ boxes nestled within planting and a bat box behind timber cladding. Large planters and the waterways are planted with ornamental grasses and aquatic flora.

A former bus turning circle road has been transformed with geometric decking and a series of timber pavilions along the water park. Waterfalls are integrated into the pavilions to provide acoustic screens to the new landscape. Custom built outdoor seats are intended to be used as work spaces, each table includes power plugs and discrete lighting with site wide Wi-Fi.

The entire campus will eventually provide 650,000 sq ft of low-cost, high-quality affordable workplace, a wide range of amenities, further generous public realm with extensive green spaces around the existing waterways. The development is expected to compete on price with key locations in the South East and major UK regional centres like Reading, coming in at half the price of current occupational costs in Shoreditch and just one third of the West End.

Richard Hywel Evans, Director of Studio RHE, commented:

“We have transformed Import Building into a dynamic, collaborative 21st-century workplace, with flexible spaces and innovative amenities and facilities, which will form a cornerstone to this sustainable unique new working neighbourhood and we are already looking forward to completion of the next stages of development.”

Robert Wolstenholme, Director, Trilogy Property added:

“The launch of Import Building at Republic comes as this part of East London sits at a tipping point: until now it has been relatively overlooked, but the quality of environment we’ve created, coupled with our proximity to capital investment community in Canary Wharf, the planned cultural powerhouses of East Bank in the Olympic Village and outstanding transport links thanks to City Airport, Crossrail and the DLR mean that we’re ideally placed at the heart of the big change coming this way. The battle for talent is everything in the knowledge economy and Republic’s early adopters are already seizing the competitive advantage that our campus offers over their rivals who pay more than £70 per square foot in Shoreditch.”

“The launch is a big moment for the dedicated teams at Trilogy, LaSalle Investment Management and Studio RHE, who have spent the last two years ensuring that our grand plan for an innovative creative campus in East India Dock becomes a reality. It’s just the beginning for Republic, however, and the space we have delivered here sets the tone for future phases.”

Studio RHE has also gained planning permission for the remodelling for the second phase of work space, the Export Building, previously known as Capstan House, adjacent to Import Building. Work is currently underway, with this phase due to finish in Spring 2019.