Martin Edwards Architects adds an airy studio to a bomb-damaged former pub in east London


Max Creasy, Simon Carruthers, Martin Edwards

The Ship on the Green pub in Stepney, east London, survived the second world war bombing that destroyed an adjoining Georgian terrace, but lost its upper storey. The remaining parts of the early nineteenth-century building were patched up and continued to serve as a pub until it was sold to an artist in the 1990s for use as a home. Martin Edwards Architects was recently commissioned to add a second-floor studio, restoring the building to its original height.

“The new studio has been formed as a single open space occupying the full footprint of the main house, using a highly insulated timber framed construction, to reduce the imposed loads on the original structure and improve thermal performance”, explains the architect.

A number of roof form and daylighting studies were undertaken during the initial design stage. The resulting double pitch roof is aligned east-west with a large central northlight. The external walls rise to a parapet, and the hidden roof geometry defines a small void within the rear elevation. Large sliding glass doors lead to a small enclosed terrace with an an opening in the corner, “positioned to offer privacy whilst partially revealing the subtracted space”, says the architect.  New casement windows to the principal elevation are aligned with those on the first floor (which are newly made, based on photographs of those in the original building).


The building with new upper storey and before it was damaged by wartime bombing; roof form studies and drawings.

The new storey is faced in thermally modified, UK-grown ash boarding with a charred and oiled finish. “The charring alludes to past events during the life of the building, and has a substantial appearance that compliments the brick and rendered masonry of the lower floors”, explains the architect. A diagonal copper rainwater pipe on the side elevation echoes the position of one on the original building.

An existing rear wing at ground floor has been extended to create a new guest bedroom, sitting room and bathroom within a  walled courtyard. The extension is built in a salvaged stock brick to match an earlier addition. Existing glazed timber doors and slate flagstones were reused in new locations.


Internally the timber roof structure of the new studio is exposed, with a single steel beam supporting the roof valley. A chain hoist is suspended from the beam to lift materials though new trap doors from ground level. The studio floor is formed from re-laid timber roofing boards that were found below layers of previous roof finishes as work progressed. A new mill finish steel plate stair rises to the studio from the remodelled circulation space at first floor.

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Martin Edwards Architects
Structural engineer
Cost consultant
GQS Services
Main contractor
Adam Lloyd Construction