Whitechapel major refurbishment becomes an unlikely catwalk
Hemel Hempstead, 12 April 2022 - A construction site has formed the unlikely setting for award-winning Danish fashion designer and video artist Jens Laugesen’s new collection.
Laugesen’s new film IN RECON/SOLARIS was shot in The Rowe, a 162,000 sq. ft office development in Whitechapel, London E1.
He gaimned permission from the contractor which is refurbishing and extending the building, BAM Construction, on behalf of developer, Frasers property.
The London-based designer, with over 20 years’ experience in international fashion, chose the building after watching BAM working on it from his neighbouring home during the pandemic.
The extensive and complex refurbishment works include upgrading the building’s existing six-storey concrete frame, and adding a six-storey steel-structured extension. The building’s existing 1960s façade is being retained, formerly belonging to London Metropolitan University’s Sir John Cass Faculty of Art (‘The Cass’) and in itself, something of an icon.
Jens Laugesen comments: ‘I was fascinated by watching first-hand the demolition and subsequent reconstruction of the new high-rise building, with a remodelled inside and additional floors added to the existing graded brutalist building. I love this metamodern concept of adding further structure to existing and saw similarities in my design practice where I take existing tailored garments to reconstruct new forms and identities. Because of these similarities, I thought it could be cool to do an image film inside the building in reconstruction, which was also the working title for the film project I developed with my long-time collaborators photographer Jean-Francois Carly and film editor Maxim Young.’
Jason Willis, BAM’s Project Manager, commented: ‘Our approach has always involved looking for opportunities to give something back to communities around our schemes, usually by partnering with schools, universities and local charities as we have done with this project. With most schemes in London there are likely to be nearby residents affected during the early stages of construction and this was particularly the case when so many people were working from home during the pandemic. We work extremely hard to maintain good relationships and our support of Jens’ project is obviously a slightly different example but it’s been very satisfying to see how a construction setting can provide the versatility that others need.’
The building is now becoming a bit of a fashion item itself, targeting a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating and a WELL ‘Gold’ certification, with design by Stirling Prize winning architects AHMM. It will run on 100 per cent renewable electricity, providing a 45 per cent carbon emission reduction compared to a standard office building. It will feature 17,000 sq. ft of external space and private terraces on every floor, plus an 8,000 sq. ft communal roof garden. It is due for completion in Autumn this year.
Jens Laugesen’s film, IN RECON/SOLARIS can be viewed here:
Furter information: Mark Slattery, Press and Media Manager, BAM Construct UK Ltd, 01442 238415.