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East Ham Old Fire Station

Sensitive conversion of a historic building

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Client: Populo Living
Status: In Progress
Location: East Ham
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Type/Sector: Leisure, Mixed-use, Residential
Tagged: Mixed Use, Re-use

Collaborators

Structural engineer Momentum structural engineers
M&E consultant SGA Consulting
Environmental consultant Eight Associates
Cost consultant Airey Miller
Acoustic engineer KP Acoustics
Air quality consultant REC
Traffic consultant TTP Consulting
Main contractor T & B Contractors

Sensitive conversion of a historic building in the heart of East Ham’s civic quarter into new affordable homes and commercial space with LB Newham’s innovative property company, Populo.

Collaborators

Structural engineer Momentum structural engineers
M&E consultant SGA Consulting
Environmental consultant Eight Associates
Cost consultant Airey Miller
Acoustic engineer KP Acoustics
Air quality consultant REC
Traffic consultant TTP Consulting
Main contractor T & B Contractors
East Ham Old Fire Station
Restored old fire station signage
East Ham Old Fire Station
Bespoke timber doors to ground floor commercial unit
East Ham Old Fire Station
Brass handle detail
Historic fire station elevations
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Natural lighting
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Celebrating the structure
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Old fire engine room with four large timber doors
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Old safe
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Brick reveals preserved and full of character
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Large versatile space ready for commercial uses
01 Context

The most sustainable building is nearly always the one that is already built.

The most sustainable building is nearly always the one that is already built, so it was with pleasure and interest that we converted a Grade II-Listed former fire station in East Ham’s civic quarter into seven apartments and ground floor commercial space. The fire station closed in the 1960s and was converted into Council office spaces, which had a detrimental impact on the historic fabric of the building, with many original features stripped out and detracting elements such as dropped ceiling tiles added. Our aim throughout was to strip out unoriginal accretions and restore the character of the historic building whilst maximise living and commercial space.

East Ham Old Fire Station
The building used to house Council Offices and has stood empty for several years, falling into a state of disrepair
East Ham Old Fire Station
Original double doors leading to the fire engine had been replaced with unattractive shutters and PVC doors
02 Council-owned, company run

The fire station is located at the top of a diverse, bustling high street, located within an attractive conservation area.

The area is characterised by greenery and a cluster of other similar styled red-brick civic buildings built at the turn of the 20th century. The commercial unit at the ground floor of the building connects to the vibrancy of the high street, reinforcing the sense of place.

East Ham Old Fire Station is one of a number of projects that we have produced with Populo Living (formerly Red Door Ventures), a company wholly-owned by Newham Council. The apartments are London Affordable Rent homes so respond to Populo’s purpose of designing and building more and better homes for Newham. Populo will also act as the property managers for the homes, providing a responsive and caring service to residents. dRMM worked closely with Populo to ensure that the design is efficient, local community focused and robust, delivering long-term sustainability.

Flexible new-builds are essential to future-proofing

Insight: Saskia Lencer

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The existing building marks a key corner of the Edwardian civic centre of East Ham
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Ground floor plan
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The new feature doors reactivate and re-connect the former engine room with the street
Bright residential corridor with terracotta flooring
Bright residential corridor with terracotta flooring
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Apartment entrance
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Retained living room fireplaces
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Terracotta, carpet detail
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Fireplace, radiator detail
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Corridor floor detail
03 Maximising space and light

All seven affordable rent apartments have dual aspect views and are laid out to maximise room sizes to accentuate the building’s historic character.

Apartment layouts are designed around the position of the heritage windows to set them off to their best advantage. The building’s main staircase has been refurbished and an additional new staircase has been introduced to improve the efficiency of the layout. The new staircase takes reference from the historic fabric, with its black steel winding steps and coloured rubber flooring echoing the colours of the historic quarry tiles found elsewhere in the building.

An existing yard located at the back of the building has been redesigned to provide a delightful, landscaped entrance for residents to enjoy and provides an attractive outlook for apartments facing east.

East Ham Old Fire Station
Typical residential floor plan
East Ham Old Fire Station
A new steel staircase has been added to improve vertical circulation
East Ham Old Fire Station
Private balconies have been added in place of the old fire escape stair, providing residents with generous outdoor space
04 Heritage significance

The 1908 building’s heritage significance is in its representation of an early 20th century fire station and features a bold, red brick building of two and a half storeys with limestone detailing and a slate roof.

A tower with a splendid cupola provides a key feature to mark the building’s corner location. Four tall arched bays at street level facing towards the high street are what is left of the doors through which fire engines used to enter.

Our design involved the removal of detracting unoriginal elements and structures, with the aim of retaining and restoring the majority of the original fabric. Behind the façade we optimised the internal layout while keeping the building’s original structural walls. This improves access and maximises the number of units while creating layouts that meet contemporary design standards and aspirations.

At ground level we neatly refurbished the former fire engine room to accommodate a new flexible commercial unit. This space not only adds to the vitality of this busy high street, but also provides an exciting and characterful space for a new café or restaurant. The original arched entrance bays are infilled with full height door that connect the commercial unit with the bustling high street. The satisfyingly substantial glass and timber doors are sympathetic to the building’s historic fabric allowing natural light to flood the interior and provide an impressing entrance into the space.

East Ham Old Fire Station
Radiator detail
East Ham Old Fire Station
Residential wash basin detail
East Ham Old Fire Station
Residential WC detail
The Fire Station is located just off the bustling High Street South in East Ham
Old Fire Station location
05 Long life, loose fit

Heritage buildings tend to be inherently environmentally sustainable, with high levels of embodied energy.

The internal spaces of the fire station lend themselves to adaptive re-use but renovation means “to make new again”, so we upgraded its interior to meet contemporary standards to create as much space and light as possible.

We successfully extended the life of this historic building through a series of modernisations that allow it to meet contemporary standards for energy efficiency, and commercial and residential amenity, such as back-of-house, waste management and cycle storage areas. The performance of the building fabric has been improved through additions such as secondary glazing and upgrading existing floor and wall build ups to create comfortable places to live.

 

East Ham Old Fire Station
Apartments benefit from large refurbished sash windows and tall ceilings
East Ham Old Fire Station
New steel stairwell
East Ham Old Fire Station
Retained round window

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