The Pottery Store


The Former Pottery store was originally built as an annex to the Grade 2 listed Hackney Free and Parochial School building, serving as a home-economics teaching facility. The school was designed by T J Bailey in the Gothic revival style and completed in 1886. In 1999 permission was granted to convert the main school building to housing and the Pottery Store was granted a similar permission at appeal in 2016.

Crawshaw Architects were asked to revisit the design in 2018 to provide a revised layout and an extension to the front of the building. The brief was to convert the spaces into an art studio as well a home. Because of the listed status all of the original elements of the building had to be retained in a recognizable form, and the extension to the front could not obscure the building any more than the existing garden wall.

Crawshaw Architects proposed a design in which a skeleton of ceiling joists remained in place, indicating the position of the original ceiling, while creating a single magnificently open interior volume displaying the original roof structure. A mezzanine bedroom was added, accessed via a large landing; the landing itself serving as a multi-functional stage, plan-chest for storage of drawings and paintings, a drawing station, and a library. Large double doors replaced the windows facing a small garden. A large lobby with a flat frameless glazed roof was added to the front of the building beneath the level of the existing garden wall, making it invisible from the street and creating an internal courtyard.

The work was a collaboration with the owner Pauline Forster, who owns, manages and has beautifully restored the George Tavern on Commercial Road in Stepney. The principal structure of the mezzanine and lobby roof is steel, but all of the other materials including the front door, the air vents, all the wooden finishes and all the fittings and furnishings were sourced by her from reclamation.

Design Team: Pandora Dourmisi, Aidan Crawshaw
Structural Engineer: David Richards, Conisbees
Contractors: Capital PM CPM Ltd
Interiors: Tor Design and Fabrication Ltd