Orms Architects have designed a unique facade and injected ‘character and soul’ into The Relay Building as a catalyst for attracting a new generation of occupier to Aldgate. We talk to Partner John McRae about his practice and what makes Aldgate different.
Q. Can you tell us about yourself and Orms?
A. Orms was formed 30 years ago and is currently 50 strong. Our clients include both office developers and occupiers. We create architecture that seeks to elevate the human experience through insight, collaboration, and design integrity. We believe that true innovation is not only in form, but in method. So, we listen; to clients, to each other, and to the individuals that live and work in our buildings. We like to start conversations. I have experience in a variety of sectors and my passion is creating a built environment that contributes to the users wellbeing and is sensitive to individual and collective needs. I contribute to many industry conferences and I am a member of British Council for Offices.
Q. What’s most enjoyable about the architectural process?
A. I really enjoy engaging with dynamic people to create innovative solutions to often conflicting needs. Architecture is a backdrop that influences the day to day experience of life but I enjoy the moment when the client or occupier can see our dream built; that is magical.
Q. When did you first visit Aldgate? What did you think?
A. In 2006 when we helped ISG design their workplace in Aldgate House. At that time it was a ‘no mans’ land for office occupiers, especially the creative sector. Now there’s a sense it’s changing and attracting a new generation of occupier.
Q. Architecturally, what do you think of the area?
A. As with many parts of London, new meets old in some fascinating and quirky ways. Aldgate has this in abundance, but needs an office community that will engage with its eclectic cultures, arts and the nearby Brick Lane. Occupiers are now seeking locations and buildings with character; Aldgate really has the potential to provide this and The Relay Building is a leading example.
Q. Do you have a different view of the area now?
A. With the rocketing rents throughout London a new generation of occupier are creating a new hub or quarter in Aldgate. There are already signs of this and The Relay Building can play a major part in this renaissance.
Q. What makes Aldgate different?
A. The majority of East London has already been ‘gentrified’ but Aldgate is still raw and evolving and in many ways finding its soul. At an exciting juncture of its evolution, attracting open minded, culturally aware occupiers will help define its soul.
Q. How do you see the future of Aldgate?
A. It would be great to reinstate the importance of Aldgate as the eastern most gateway between the City of London and Whitechapel. It is starting to reinvent itself with the right mix of office occupiers to integrate with the local community and create a new Quarter.