At TOG, the character of a building is a key consideration as to whether it’s a good fit to become a Work Space – and relatively few buildings pass muster. With Brock House, though, TOG’s newest West End Work Space on Great Portland Street, the building’s backstory is colourful to say the least.
“Originally it was the site of a church, then Brock House was built as the Philarmonic Hall in the 1910s and played host to lots of jazz orchestras, and Shackleton actually displayed the silent films from his Antarctic Expedition there in 1919 and 1920,” explains Parvathy Vipulendran, an architect from long-time TOG collaborator, SODA, who worked with TOG’s design team to transform Brock House. “Then, in the 1930s it was reopened as a cinema with a car showroom on the ground floor and latterly the building was the radio headquarters of the BBC.”
These various different chapters in the building’s past were a lot to digest at first, but bringing Brock House to life in a way that felt both contemporary and respectful of this heritage was a compelling challenge for TOG. Fidel Sáenz de Ormijana, TOG’s senior architect, explains: “My first impressions of the space were very positive. It’s a handsome building, and it feels very compact and sturdy in its own way. For projects like ours, you don’t have many standalone island buildings like Brock where you’ve got every single elevation to work with, either.”