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Vernon Street

Location: London, UK

Client: Vernon Street Property Ltd

Architect: Gustav Ader for Terry Pawson Architects

Status: Completed

Photography: Nick Guttridge

This office building is a new addition to former West London Magistrates Court from 1913 by architect John Dixon Butler near Olympia in West London.

Built from a simple palette of Portland aggregate cast stone, bronze coloured metalwork and large expanses of structural glazing. The interior spaces, whilst not revealing itself to the street or its neighbours, each faces one of three planted external courtyards 


“Terry Pawson's west London office building combines a redundant court building, arts and crafts detail and modern theory to imposing effect.


The scheme's three-dimensional composition of solid volumes makes a dramatic silhouette, with opaque glass windows in the gaps, like quartz growing in rock fissures. Immaculately detailed, the cast stone mass sits tight against the back of the pavement, defining a solid edge to the street. A taller volume has been split away from the whole with a bronze strip shadow gap. A horizontal slot cuts away a corner leaving a mass of masonry above. It is refined and beautifully made but slightly aloof from the street.


A deep cast-stone portal marks the entrance, containing an extended section of pavement and beginning a carefully judged sequence of thresholds leading inside. It opens on to a small courtyard with a glazed pavement light to the display room below, then through a narrower lobby to a hallway, which is both an extension of the lobby and a niche off the main office space. The internal courtyard, then the stair up

to first floor, become visible as you enter the hall, so that the spaces seem to interlock visually. Options arise for where to go next but each space is generous enough not to hurry you on.


Inside and outside spaces are given equal importance, with the two courtyards treated as external rooms. Full-height sliding glass doors make the courtyard feel part of the ground-floor office space. By responding to a specific place and using high quality materials, Pawson has made a building with inherent physical qualities that is a joy to be in.“

Graham Bizley, Building Design

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