Silver side up for Nick Hartwright in Royal Docks
Rescued derelict building provides short-term solution for creative enterprises This is not about saving the building. It is about the people and enabling them to create a community and change the landscape around them Nick Hartwright, Projekt
Social entrepreneur Nick Hartwright first saw The Silver Building three years ago as he soared overhead on the Emirates Air Line. The former brewery stood derelict and empty, unloved but not unusual in the Royal Docks where regeneration is only now taking hold in earnest.
Nick, who had been pointed towards the site by the Greater London Authority (GLA), decided he would be the man to put the building to good use before it was eventually swept away by the wider redevelopment of West Silvertown.
“I looked down and saw this beautiful lump of architecture,” said the founder of property company Projekt, which manages and programmes 13 buildings across London, including Green Rooms – the UK’s first arts-led social enterprise hotel.
“I thought it would be a great place for us to do something.”
After securing support from Silvertown Homes and £1million from the London Regeneration Fund and private investors, Nick collaborated with architectural studio Soda to transform the imposing structure into a space for creative enterprises, startups and local businesses.
“It is ridiculous to not repurpose and reuse existing buildings over a short period of time,” said Nick.
Originally constructed in 1964 for the Carlsberg-Tetley Brewing company, the building had stood empty for 20 years and was “a complete mess,” said the 41-year-old who grew up in High Wycombe and previously designed carpets and restored theatres.
“It had been squatted in for years and used for raves, and when they left they ripped it to pieces. All that was left was a concrete shell.”
Work started on site in December and has now been completed with a new entrance created for the 50,000sq ft building on Dock Road, along with 32 studios of various sizes in the main building, a cafe/ bar and two spacious exhibition and events rooms.
Space costs around £15 per sq ft and around 30 tenants have already moved in, including set designers Block9, who have worked with Banksy, Lana Del Ray and Gorillaz, and fashion designer Craig Green.
Eventually the building will be demolished to make way for the wider redevelopment of the site in West Silvertown, which will include approximately 5,500 new homes and
The redeveloped site now includes 32 studios of various sizes and tenants already include set designers Block9 and designer Craig Green