Clapton Portico

Hackney, London

The neglected and ruined Clapton Portico resurrected with a new building extending the body of the portico in the location of the original chapel. This provides a new Learning Resource Centre for adults and children and is now part of Clapton Girls School.

The project is a sensitive example of how an old building can be given a new life and use. The contemporary extension is in harmony with the original scale and height of the Greek Portico.  A reception space with lift and staircase has been installed within the existing Portico internal space. This new additions are expressed in a crisp, contemporary manner to provide a clear, respectful contrast to that the original elements. In this way the old and new are legible. Externally aluminium louvres provide a clear visual contrast with the original stonework whilst minimising glare and overheating to the interiors and providing security to the computer equipment inside.

The Portico has had a long history since its time as London’s first orphanage, then the Salvation Army HQ. It became the centre of interest again in 1999 when artist Martin Creed installed a white neon artwork work number 203: ‘everything is going to be alright’ on the entablature as part of an integrated education project initiated by Clapton Girls School and Groundwork Hackney. Martin Creed went on to win the Turner Prize for modern art in 2001. The piece is now in the Hauser & Wirth collection in Somerset on the side of a Gothic farmhouse in 2014!

Client: Hackney Learning Trust

Awards: 2007 Hackney Design Award

Publications: Architecture Today

Photos: Keith Collie

“What was once one of London’s long-term “buildings at risk” with seemingly no future, has, through the vision of Brady Mallalieu Architects and their clients, been given a new and exciting lease of life.  The splendid new building is a prime example of how to successfully integrate the historic with the contemporary, not only preserving a distinctive local landmark, but answering a real need within the local community through its new role as a City Learning Centre.  We are sure that this will prove a real stimulus and inspiration for others”

Philip Davies, Planning & Development Director (South), English Heritage.