The architecture of London is a fascinating mixture of old and new. Some of the older buildings in the capital have found new life and a new purpose through conscious repurposing. Here’s a quick selection featuring some of the city’s most fascinating repurposed buildings, sure to impress hipsters visiting London.
Repton Park Swimming Pool
Once a church, now a swimming pool – this venue is part of the Virgin Active fitness centre – and provides a wonderfully atmospheric swim. The showers are located within the altar space, and the confession box is now a sauna. Whilst sure to split opinion, it’s still a fascinating instance of repurposing, and sure to be of interest to hipster architecture enthusiasts visiting the Montcalm hotel Shoreditch. The pool stretches 25m and hosts regular aqua classes for anyone interested in a more communal swimming experience.
The Garden Museum
Another converted church, in this case The Garden Museum, updating the venue’s purpose to transform it into a museum is precisely what kept the space from being demolished during the 1970s. A former royal gardener named John Tradescant was buried here in the 17th century, and this enabled the switch from place of worship to museum of garden history. With full renovations taking place in 2008, the museum now includes a gallery space which regularly hosts a variety of different exhibitions throughout the year. For green-fingered hipster types visiting the Montcalm hotel Shoreditch, this should definitely make the itinerary.
Built in 1889 and one of the better known repurposed buildings in London, Marylebone’s Chiltern Firehouse was once a fire station – but is now home to glitzy celebrity foodies. It represents an alternative option to dining at restaurants in Shoreditch, particularly for those who long to see and be seen in an exclusive and upscale environment. The venue is also a hotel, and after being a decommissioned as a fire station in 2005 it first housed numerous arts exhibitions before being rediscovered in its current format.
We might associate it far more with the police, but between 1884 and 1922, Great Scotland Yard was actually a fire station. It is also home to the Civil Service Club, an exclusive venue which caters to members of the Metropolitan Police and Civil Service, as well as their guests during their visit to London.
Landmark Arts Centre
Once the Church of St Alban the Martyr, the Landmark Arts Centre is a large arts centre which sprang up in the 1970s following the church’s neglect as a place of worship. A campaign was launched to preserve its architecture for future generations, and it was soon converted into an arts centre, hosting everything from fairs to concerts, book clubs and private events for those seeking a unique and thoroughly impressive venue. It was built in 1889, and due to its large size has become known as the ‘Cathedral of Thames Valley’ – another reason to check out this location in person.