Constructed in 1870, St George’s Town Hall is a Grade II listed former vestry and town hall of the borough of Stepney. It is a local landmark, due in part to the mural depicting the Battle of Cable Street (1936) painted on its west elevation. The front elevation has an asymmetric bay composition as a result of many piecemeal historic extensions to the building. The typically unkempt composition of the rear façade faces St George’s Gardens, the grounds of St George’s-in-the-East Church.
At project inception, the building was in a poor state of repair due to a lack of maintenance and lack of a dedicated function; it had been partially let to a number of community and commercial organisations for various uses over a number of years. Our project brief was to re-house Tower Hamlet’s Registry Service and archive, provide office space for the Met Police and to open a public café to help activate use of the gardens. Working closely with the various multi-headed stakeholders, the design team rationalised the various historic extensions and provided the best fit to secure a sustainable, holistic long-term use.
Our conservation approach sought to respect and refurbish existing features and discreetly highlight suitable the new additions to the building. A neutral, contemporary palette was applied throughout to bring the different areas of the building together.
As well as simplifying circulation, the project upgrades service routes throughout. Maintenance access and avoiding clashes with historic features was carefully considered in the coordination of the services.
The works to remodel the building were procured and executed at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, resulting in drastic changes to site operations and practices. The project has revitalised an under-utilised heritage asset and brought a civic building back into civic use.