The Foundry – a place for change – is the result of a collaboration between a number of leading Trusts and Foundations and the Ethical Property Company. Basedin Vauxhall, London, it provides space for some of the country’s most innovative and progressive social justice and human rights organisations through the provision of ethically managed and affordable workspace, conference facilities, events and exhibition space that will support the local community, the wider public and the social change sector. The new building, designed by Architecture 00, is half Victorian factory and half contemporary modern with concrete, glass and wood surfaces. It was a recipient of a RIBA National Award 2015 as a building that has made a significant contribution to architecture.
Our role has been to design the new building and place identity, along with wayfinding signage and public artworks. The visual identity reflects the three gables that were constructed as part of the new building. A full range of communication material has been designed, incl. stationery and printed material as part of the scope, along with a full set of guidelines.
Wanting to create sympathetic design solutions to the strong elegant lines of the well-designed building and use of materials, the wayfinding signage reflects the wooden surface details, where directional information has been laser-etched into plywood panels and mounted directly onto the wall surfaces.
Exterior building signage displays The Foundry name as anodised steel lettering elegantly on the front of the new building, while at the back, on the old building, the name has been painted onto the surface which looks almost like an original feature of the building.
At the entrance, The Foundry logo, laser cut from ply is mounted onto the concrete surface and the sliding doors are indicated by the gable design in blue with ‘IN’ and ‘OUT’ references. Internal door numbers were laser cut from ply and mounted directly onto the doors along with a flexible company name plate that can be changed with ease. Window manifestations replicate the wood strip weight and spacing.
Continuing the theme of integrated design, it was important that the public art became part of the building. A series of narrative artworks based on profound statements made by great thinkers and human rights leaders, from world history past and present, were chosen by the local community from a large pool of researched quotes as ones in which they resonated with most.
Interestingly the quote with the most quotes came from Anne Frank “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world” which now appears above the entrance on the soffit. Quotations appear throughout the building on both the concrete surfaces and white walls to create a narrative presence that reflects the place ethos. A large exterior metal anodised lettering quotation is displayed on the stairwell grill and reflects the nature of what is done ‘here’.
A set of super-graphic portraits – Martin Luther King, Aung San Suu Kyi, Nelson Mandela and Abraham Lincoln – can be seen on the ground floor conference hall windows, each portrait made up typographically from the person’s own words. A nice response came from one of the local residents:
Firstly, welcome and thank you for bringing a bit of life to our street, the building is a dramatic improvement.
Secondly, I’d like to commend you on the artwork in the windows. They are fantastic and I feel really appropriate for todays youths and lost soles. A gentle but constant reminder of what and who we are. I love it, thanks.
Once again, thank you for bringing a bit of meaning to Oval Way. The work you all do is amazing.”