Piers Gough brings a sense of occasion to Poplar Baths

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Architects Piers Gough and Jim Corcoran from CZWG talk to Wendy Allen, from Guildmore about their input to the Poplar Baths regeneration project - now underway

“Nothing is too good for the East End... We liked Guildmore’s ‘can do’ approach and attitude and were pleased to be part of the team”, Piers Gough

Jim Corcoran and Piers Gough partner architects at CZWG talk about their latest project – the renovation of Poplar Baths with construction company Guildmore.

When entering CZWG in bustling Clerkenwell there is a feeling of entering through pillars of greatness. The offices are, of course, extraordinary. Walking through a stark Victorian brick façade and met in a peaceful inner courtyard by a large swirling dark grey pillar, glass doors and airy open modern office space, arranged on different levels

Piers and Jim have designed a stunning edifice of outstanding apartments that will sit alongside the elegant reconstruction of Poplar Baths.

This major regeneration project includes a superb new swimming pool, leisure and community centre, for the people of Tower Hamlets to enjoy.

Jim is disarmingly easy to talk to, although his commanding depth of knowledge is immediately apparent. A shock of bright white hair and contrasting dark eyebrows stand out like monochromatic features in their own right.

So what was behind Tower Hamlets’ Mayor Lutfur Rahman and Guildmore Construction Company’s choice to use CZWG for this very competitive Poplar Baths project?

“Guildmore chose CZWG for our reputation of heritage of quality and excellence. We brought successful innovation to sites in East London and Dorchester. Urban city developments in very constrained sites. Spatially adept, we excel at putting pieces of a jigsaw together,” replied Jim.

When asked what appealed to CZWG about The Poplar Baths project, Jim replied that Piers already had a warm relationship with the building.

“As a Tower Hamlet resident, Piers was included in an earlier project with the local community to discuss ideas for its future. He was keen to use his expertise to provide 60 luxury flats in this fantastic art deco building, set in a gritty landscape”.

Piers pops in and his lofty charm, insightful wit and air of intense concentration immediately command full attention. It’s clear to see the rapport between these two luminaries of the architectural world.

Working with Guildmore was a first for both Piers and Jim and they’ve enjoyed working with Engin Ertosun, Guildmore Managing Director. “All is going well,” said Jim. “We were happy to work in collaboration with Pringle, Richards, Sherratt – very fine architects and Guildmore Construction Company. We liked Guildmore’s ‘can do’ approach and attitude and were pleased to be part of the team”, commented Piers.

They took care to work alongside council protocols and drew on their ingenuity and experience to incorporate local needs and requirements.

Of course the challenges were huge.

“We were asked to provide sophisticated residential accommodation amid the gritty urban hinterland of the East India Dock Road. We paid particular attention to the balconies – making sure that they all faced a sunny aspect with one direction. The greater majority of flats have a dual aspect – no one is just north facing.” stated Piers. “Our particular concerns were to create light, modern flats alongside an Art Deco building from a robust, utilitarian setting,” he continued.

Interestingly, it was an engineer, not an architect, originally designed the Baths. And Piers made sure they worked alongside the Environmental Trust to promote this spectacular piece of architecture.

It all adds to the civic offering.

“We sought to bring a sense of occasion to the project. We wanted to make very attractive apartments and use our ability to design flats that were very specific to their location,” he added. “We see Poplar Baths as a fabulous, healthy, urban hub. There’s a rail-point, shops… it all adds to the civic offering. This was an elegant opportunity and Poplar Baths was like a tooth missing,” added Piers.

How did they go about matching the design of the apartments to the Art Deco structure of Poplar Baths? Jim replied, “ We used a dark brick and golden balconies, with a horizontal emphasis. The metallic finish harmonises with the windows of Poplar Baths. The robust Baths has a barrel vault and our building has a similar range, facing the East India Dock Road with an integral, robust quality”.

While they were working on the project, both Piers and Jim were struck by the beauty of All Souls Church, opposite, “A fine building and a pleasure to see”.

The local people are very much behind the regeneration project and are interested to see and enjoy the results.

“Nothing is too good for the East End” Piers Gough

“So what’s the future for Poplar Baths and Tower Hamlets?”. “Nothing is too good for the East End. It’s often thought of as the poor end of town” interjected Piers, “It suffered from wartime bombing and after the war, Poplar was rebuilt as a model town. We’re trying to continue that idea of an optimistic regeneration with a glamorous edge”.

Dark, light, golden, glowing, robust, optimistic and glamorous designs - Tower Hamlets are waiting to see the results.

For more information, please contact: Wendy Allen, wendy(dot)allen(at)guildmore(dot)com, 07967 819799

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Wendy Allen
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