Fourthspace creates workspaces for artists in a Victorian brick building
Fourthspace has completed a series of new artists’ studios as part of an extension and renovation in east London’s Vyner Street. Working closely with the resident artists, the new spaces have been tailored to their specific needs with bespoke artworks incorporated into the building itself.
AKK Studios is a collaborative project between architects and artists and is therefore named for its three occupants, sculptor Kevin Francis Gray, artist Keith Coventry and artist/collector Alireza Abrishamchi. Fourthspace knew the clients from the local area and set about creating three open and elegant studios that retain the raw feel of a workshop, with design elements that reflect the craft of each artist.
The challenge for Fourthspace was to create a four-storey studio out of the existing low-level Victorian building. The original interior was found to be in poor condition and was stripped back, with a new steel framework installed in to provide each artist with just over 1000 square feet of space, completed at a cost of £150 per square foot. The brick facade was retained and two additional floors have been added to the building, clad in dark zinc, providing the studios with a contemporary identity. The top-most floor is occupied by the architects themselves in a garret-like loft space.
The varying interior spaces are unified by a cohesive design aesthetic, achieved with raw and basic common parts featuring exposed galvanised conduits, copper piping, raw steel stairs, and fluorescent tube lighting. The overall feel when entering the spaces is a mixture between light industry and a traditional artist’s studio. Dialogue between artist and architect was key and as such each floor reflects its occupant and their work and interests.
Kevin Francis Gray occupies the ground floor of AKK Studios. Fourthspace created a nod to the artists’ work with a bespoke kitchen wrapped in marble mined from the very same quarry as used in Gray’s sculptures. The floor is completed with a series of Crittall screens and doors that partition an outdoor terrace and internal office space, ensuring that the office retains its sense of openness. One of the screens features a custom-made stained glass art piece by John Reyntiens, blending art and architecture.
The first floor is the studio of Keith Coventry. His double-aspect space comes with a fully-glazed rear elevation leading to a planted terrace. Coventry’s own artwork is built into the fabric of the cladding of the terrace, with the undercroft of the balcony finished by re-using copper sheets from a discarded piece of art.
Alireza Abrishamchi’s second-floor studio is designed more like a typical gallery space, hosting numerous pieces of his art collection, with a light-filled front facing terrace and a paired-back office/meeting space.
The top floor is completed with an office space inspired by the idea of the artist’s garret. A secretive feel is created for this workspace that hides inside the top of the zinc-roof structure, but offers the occupants views out of wide-open windows overlooking Hackney.
Steve Sinclair, co-founder and director of Fourthspace Studios, says of the project “The main drive behind AKK Studios was to make spaces for the artists to enjoy working in. These would be uncomplicated, raw, but sensible and cohesive at the same time. We maximised the floor space and kept costs down, quality of light was in different ways important for each floor, and collaboratively we were able to incorporate artwork into the fabric of the building.”.
Finishing touches to the spaces were completed in late 2017, and AKK Studios’ collaborative ethos between architect and artists will further develop with ever-evolving work on aspects of the interior and new features of the building.
David Dexter Assocs
Puneet Dhawan, KM Dimensions
Kevin Francis Gray, Keith Coventry and Alireza Abrishamchi