PSLAB London (Environment, 2019) London

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A home for PSLab in London. A house of light and shadow. Not an office, neither a showroom. Yet serving both these functions. A discreet, yet permanent presence in the neighbourhood. Grounded. Hospitable. Activated by light.

( WILDS RENTS ) Number 22. A late Victorian warehouse.  Built for industry. Stripped back to reveal the core structure of steel, brick, concrete, and sunken pits formerly used for dying. Bermondsey was teeming with tanneries. Close to the river. Ideal for tanning.

( SYNOPSIS ) A quiet brutalism. An internal concrete landscape. Solid and permanent. Yet inviting to the hand and to inhabit.  Detailed with timber, textiles and plants. Encouraging touch and use.

( PURPOSE ) Functions defined yet intertwined. A single open space that invites exploration. A space to walk in and on (and to sit). To comfortably hold few and many. Areas overlap and actions merge. A space of possibilities. A garden, a kitchen, a courtyard.  A dining table, an auditorium, an atelier. A library, a meeting room, a living room. A volume divided, yet unified

( LEVELS ) Cast into the structure of the building. A unifying language. Increments of verticality. Steps extend, becoming levels. Floor becomes bench. Plinth becomes floor. Table becomes chair. Seats within steps. Steps within seats. Down into. And up out of.

( OBJECTNESS ) Levels become objects. Furniture. Separate from the structure. The same as the structure. Grounded geometry. Form accentuated. The physicality of objects. Their mass & density. Block atop block. Block through block. Block beside block.

( KITCHEN ) To be used. Practical (not a gesture). A monolith as island. Sink. Set. A collection of assorted vessels. Lebanese glassware.

( DINING ) A 3.2m concrete table. Cantilevering. In the heart of the space. To Gather. To Share. To Eat. Horsehair cushions, make it a place to stay. Hospitality is central.

( LIBRARY ) Rigour. Precision. Verticality. Horizontality. PSlab’s ingredients abstracted. No finished products. Instead, a palette of opportunity ( material, form, optics ). Framed. By a grid of floor to ceiling steelwork – a spine connecting the living area and the atelier. Ghost beams. The alignment and material derived from the ceiling structure. Drawers – carcasses of beech, faces of patinated Iroko. Timber. Tactility. Steel lecterns (to exhibit). Articulated ladders (to access).

( GARDEN ) Leaves. Trees. Climbers. Dense. Planted in the building.  A part of it. Committed. Mattress cushions invite. Hand dyed linen. A space to pause. To study. To converse.

( TO DEMONSTRATE ) An auditorium. A theatre to share knowledge. Comfortable for one, or twenty people. A stage for the exhibition and explanation of light and optics. Practical.  Emotive. A twelve meter projection wall frames the lights. A gantry overhead. 359 components cast in iron. Formed to precisely fit the structure. Adaptable. Versatile.  

( TO CONCEAL ) Old timbers found in the space inform a utility pit running the length of the projection wall. Fifty five planks of patinated iroko.  Warm. Tactile. Removable. Functional.  Back of house. Pantry. Utilities. Lockers. Shelving. Hidden but accessible storage. 

( CONCRETE ) Poured. Cast. Geometric grid. Softened with nuance. Alignment. Broken with detail. Uneven surfaces. Deliberate. Imperfections. Intended. Misalignment. Designed. Reveal the hand that made it. Invite the touch of the user. Stacks of prayer matts are scattered to provide seating. 

( FINISHING ) Exposed aggregate defines the floor. A more refined finish for the furniture. Horizontals polished smooth. Verticals raw, textured. Warmth within density. 

( ATELIER ) Wall rails run the length of the building. To display. Maquettes, models, samples, materials. A space to be disrupted. Unset. A 3 metre desk of steel and iroko.

( IN PRIVATE ) A room to meet in.  Dark walls frame a 1950’s Yrjo Kukkapuro corner seat and desk. Glazed factory doors, seclude yet reveal. ( FAÇADE ) A new entrance. Geometry realigned. A heavy warehouse door instated. A sense of history and weight. Open – to reveal a new courtyard. Close – a dark slide to blackout. Internalise the light.

( COURTYARD ). A transition. From streetside to PSLab. Stepped back from the street. Daylight. Greenery. Simple benches and an antique coffee table.

An introduction. An invitation.


Photographs ©Rory Gardiner

Film produced by PSLab – filmed and directed by Lana Daher.