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  • Ben Mailen

Domus Campus Retrofit


Domus Clerkenwell's new material reference library

PROJECT SUMMARY

Since 1964, Domus has proudly collaborated with the architectural and design community, carving a reputation as the specification experts for tiles, stone, wood and engineered flooring products.


Previous Domus showrooms have always sought out new ways to identify and instigate engaging connections with customers and suppliers alike. Such as building a destination to immerse visitors in a world of textures, tones and techniques, rather than simply sending samples.


The spaces needed to be welcoming and inspiring - a ‘home away from home’ to entice designers and colleagues into a cafe-like flexible working space, in a time before remote working was the norm. The buildings also needed to function as technical advice centres, galleries and occasional event environments too.


Naturally, the new space needed to be a celebration of surface and style, applied with a high level of craftsmanship across the spacious showrooms, to demonstrate potential applications while showing how to build well and complement other interior design cues.


Designers and specifiers got to see both the product they were interested in but also a whole myriad of potential other solutions, and access advice on how to specify and build properly.




CLERKENWELL CAMPUS

The brief for Mailen Design was straightforward, yet multi-faceted.


During and after lockdown, the Domus team considered a new approach in response to shifting working processes, both for staff and designers and specifiers. The response needed to consolidate a number of the large showrooms into a single, key ‘Campus’ spread across a number of interconnected buildings in Clerkenwell.


This new flagship Domus ‘hub’ was to provide a number of different functions, including product range showcase and libraries, a gallery space for changing displays, cafe and informal working areas and function event spaces.


Behind the scenes, the Campus also required large storage areas, office space, and technical support areas.





To create the new Domus ‘showcase’ space, featuring the largest showroom shop front in Clerkenwell, the concept required a number of existing spaces to be connected, reconfigured and reimagined.


This ‘retro-connection’ brought sustainability to the fore, repurposing and revitalising disparate buildings into a new, multifaceted, multipurpose space that epitomises Domus, while answering the demands of employees and customers alike.


The main part of the design involved extending and reconfiguring a series of ground floor spaces, set back from the street, to create a larger footprint by repurposing an adjacent space that initially housed a private bar.


Connecting the bar with the street facing building via previously disconnected volumes, and adding a new first floor volume over the existing ground floor roof space also repurposed the existing light-well and roof spaces into courtyards, social spaces and external event areas.





The new reconfiguration provides seamless flowing access between all areas of the business all under one ‘campus’ space, with different zones offering different functions, and multiple entrances and shopfronts delivering new and unusual ‘ways in’ to the Domus experience.


There’s a real attention to scale and atmosphere; instead of a big imposing showroom, the smaller areas now flow with a joined-up intimacy, giving the place a home-like feel. The result is that more staff want to work there, and stay longer, even in these post-Covid times.





The nature of Domus’ business was the key driver for the considered use of rich materials, tactile texture and contrasting finishes.


By adhering to a consistency of materials and detailing, the disparate buildings were given a strong aligning architectural thread across all the different spaces.


Outside, the campus presents a glistening bold frontage, decked out in shimmering metro-shaped black tiles. This provides an eye-catching facade to help the premises standout in the narrow Clerkenwell location.





Two exposed steel and terrazzo staircases establish a bold literal ‘bridge’ across two previously separate buildings.


Inside, La Pietra Compattata tiles were given precedence due to their calm, soft tones and their sustainable creation process - the tiles are comprised of 60% natural raw and recycled materials, and made using a cold-pressed method rather than a gas-fired kiln.


The showroom now operates as both Domus’ flagship store, featuring hundreds of tactile samples to explore in the calm, library-like surroundings, and also as a revitalised set of buildings, now aligned in form, function and perspective.




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