Coffey Architects revives industrial history in new London mixed-use space

London’s Bermondsey neighbourhood has a rich industrial history that dates back to the 19th century, and Coffey Architects has masterfully captured this heritage in their latest project, The Tannery.

The mixed-use development combines housing, artist’s studios, and a gallery, all located around a welcoming courtyard. This project not only pays homage to the area’s industrial past but also breathes new life into the historic surroundings.


Situated on the former Rich Industrial Estate, which was once the bustling epicentre of Bermondsey’s tannery trade, The Tannery represents a pivotal collaboration between Coffey Architects and developers London Square, as part of a wider masterplan for the neighbourhood devised by AHMM architects.

The essence of The Tannery’s design lies in its reference to the area’s industrial heritage, both in materiality and form. The three distinct buildings by Coffey Architects incorporate elements that hark back to Bermondsey’s history as a hub of industry. Adjacent to these modern structures stands a refurbished warehouse, further connecting the past with the present, and preserving a piece of the area’s historical character.

To the north of the development, The Tannery boasts a gallery space that houses Tannery Arts and Drawing Room. This particular structure is a striking example of architectural craftsmanship, featuring a low-lying brick building topped with a sawtooth roof. The sawtooth design, along with strategically placed skylights, allows for ample natural light to flood the gallery spaces below, creating an ideal setting for art exhibitions and creative expressions.

At the eastern end of the Bar of Light, a large foyer and concierge space is defined by a black concrete spiral stair at its centre that leads up into the apartments.

“The scale of the ‘Bar of Light’ began with the idea that the scale of the objects and buildings at the Rich Estate were so immense that any new insertion should also express its bulk/mass,” explained Coffey.

“The black concrete and steel stair work together to create a grand entry into the Bar of Light – they have a monumentality that suits the scale of the experience of moving from ground floor into the Bar of Light above,” he continued.

Coffey Architects’ approach to this project is a testament to their commitment to preserving the heritage of the neighbourhoods they work in. By seamlessly integrating the aesthetics of Bermondsey’s industrial history into The Tannery’s design, they’ve created a space that not only serves the needs of a modern community but also pays homage to the area’s illustrious past.

The Tannery serves as an outstanding example of how architectural design can embrace the rich history of an area and rejuvenate it for contemporary purposes. As London continues to evolve, projects like The Tannery are essential in maintaining the city’s connection to its industrial heritage while providing functional, forward-thinking spaces for the community. Coffey Architects has once again proven that the past can inspire the future, and in doing so, they’ve revitalized a piece of London’s history for generations to come.

Images by Phil Coffey via Dezeen

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