Idea Store Whitechapel

Adjaye Associates

An innovative program in London combines a traditional library with space for classes.

The Idea Store Whitechapel is the flagship building of a program based on a new type of information and learning resource being pioneered by the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. When the initiative is complete, there will be seven Idea Stores and each will combine the resources of a modern library with walk-in access to a range of courses for people of all ages from across the community.

Idea Store Whitechapel
Photo © Adjaye Associates

Adjaye Associates

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Situated on Whitechapel Road, a major thoroughfare, the Idea Store connects to a nearby tube station, faces the Royal London hospital and is bordered by a supermarket car park. Because of the cramped site, the building is organized over five floors and offers multiple points of access–at ground level and at two other levels by an escalator located in an atrium that is suspended above the pavement.

About 10 percent of the floor space is retail, the remainder a mix of library and education space. The building is conceived as a simple stack of flexible floor plates wrapped in a unified facade that combines transparency with color. A curtain wall consisting of a repeating pattern of colored glass, clear glass, and glass faced aluminum panels encloses all four facades.

Each floor is arranged like a promenade that reveals the services and facilities being offered while affording arresting views of the surrounding area. On Whitechapel Road, the five-story atrium extends out over the pavement and, in conjunction with an escalator, attracts people in and up. The café is placed on the top floor to draw people past the various facilities  and rewards them with panoramic views of the city of London.

Internally, the exposed concrete frame defines a series of welcoming and inclusive spaces. Light fittings, bookshelves and worktops are designed to create an intimate and flexible environment.

Formal name of building:
Idea Store Whitechapel

319 Whitechapel Road, London

Completion Date: September 2005

Gross square footage: 4500m2 sq.ft.

Total project cost: GBP 12million

London Borough of Tower Hamlets

Adjaye Associates
23-28 Penn Street
London N1 5DL
United Kingdom
Tel: 0044 (0)20 77394969
Fax: 0044 (0)20 77393484

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