New advancements in computer aided parametric modeling techniques provide designers with all kinds of fun fodder to create exciting building facades. The Town Hall Hotel by London-based RARE architecture is a great example of how these parametrically designed skins can help to alter our existing cityscapes through efficient and innovative exterior reinvention. This relatively new 98 room luxury hotel, restaurant and bar is housed in the Grade II historically listed Bethnal Green Town Hall building in London’s East End. RARE architecture’s restoration has saved this historic building and the environment from the energy it would have taken to demolish and rebuild something new in its place.
Originally built in 1910, this Edwardian town hall was extended in 1937 into a 7,500 square meter building. It fell victim to numerous modifications until it was vacated and left to decay in 1993. In 2007, Peng Loh purchased the building and contacted Michel de Costa Gonçalves and Nathalie Rozencwajg of RARE architecture. This innovative firm was tasked to redesign a contemporary hotel within the existing building, while adding volume through a new wing extension. In 2008, their cutting edge design won the approval of English Heritage, and RARE architecture began to implement their patterned skin to the building.
The Town Hall Hotel’s new aluminum skin was developed based on an original art deco feature in the previous Council Chamber. This skin not only provided a new contemporary face for this historic hall, but it was also effective at improving the building’s performance. The skin filters natural light into the rooms behind it, while also providing privacy for the rooms occupants. The skin’s form is also duplicated in interior features such as the hotel’s brass reception desk, interior panels, and ventilation enclosures.
Within the 98 different rooms, RARE architecture also took an innovative approach to how the new spaces fit into the existing rooms. They provided an internal re-planning of the contemporary hotel rooms, and inserted what they call their “spatial furniture” in 98 unique layouts. These new bedroom and bathroom suites were made from contemporary materials such as CNC milled MDF, Corian and glass, a strategy that provided for a clear delineation between the restored and new. Other areas of the building were also restored with contemporary twists, including the Conference Room, Mayor’s Room, bar and restaurant.
RARE directors Michel da Costa Gonçalves and Nathalie Rozencwajg said: “The building plays with the division and connection between old and new and is a reinvention as well as a restoration – one which we hope will be a treasured landmark for East London.”