Paul Smith Albemarle Street
store facade by 6a Architects

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Following our story about the extension of fashion designer Paul Smith's Albemarle Street store, here are some more images of its new cast iron facade by London studio 6a Architects (+ slideshow).

Paul Smith Albemarle Street store facade by 6a Architects

6a Architects abstracted Paul Smith's hand drawings to create a repetitive relief pattern of interlocking circles to cast in iron, a common material around the British capital.

Paul Smith Albemarle Street store facade by 6a Architects

"Cast iron forms an understated background to the city’s streets; its railings, gratings, balconies, and lamp posts," said the architects.

Paul Smith Albemarle Street store facade by 6a Architects

Thin edges of the circles are embossed to cast shadows across the surface, which is patinated and marked from the casting process.

Paul Smith Albemarle Street store facade by 6a Architects

The facade covers an existing eighteenth century shop front, and its colour and style provides a sharp contrast to the other Georgian buildings in the Mayfair area of London.

Paul Smith Albemarle Street store facade by 6a Architects

Three small drawings by Smith have been cast directly into sections across the facade. Curved glass cabinets protrude through the ironwork to display items of furniture.

Paul Smith Albemarle Street store facade by 6a Architects

At the entrance to the shop, the panels curve inward to the large stained oak doors.

Paul Smith Albemarle Street store facade by 6a Architects

Inside, the store features brightly coloured accents to match the designer's furniture and an accessories room lined with dominoes - see our earlier story about the interior here.

Paul Smith Albemarle Street store facade by 6a Architects

6a Architects has previously completed the renovation of a contemporary art exhibition centre in east London and stripped back a derelict house to expose original structural features.

See more projects by 6a Architects »
See more design by Paul Smith »
See more architecture and design in London »

The text below is from 6a Architects:


The new Albemarle Street shop front for Paul Smith builds on a familiar material tradition in London. Cast iron forms an understated background to the city’s streets; its railings, gratings, balconies, and lamp posts. Paul's brief was an eclectic collection of references, images, textures and traditions, encompassing military medals, woven hats and finely drawn gold ingots alongside sharp tailoring, the soft fall of cloth, craftsmanship and delight in surprise.

Paul Smith Albemarle Street store facade by 6a Architects

The ground floor rustication of the Georgian townhouse and the ornamental language of the 18th century shop front were reinterpreted and abstracted in a sinuous pattern of interlocking circles cast into a new solid iron facade. The repetition of the typical Regency shape brought an optical complexity, which with the play of sunlight and shadow turns the pattern into a deep surface texture. Seen obliquely it seems woven, like a fine cloth.

Paul Smith Albemarle Street store facade by 6a Architects

The surface is further enlivened by the latent makers’ marks of the casting process and the natural patination of the cast iron. A more intimate discovery is to be made in the trio of small drawings by Paul cast directly into panels scattered across the façade.

Paul Smith Albemarle Street store facade by 6a Architects

Curved windows project from the darkly textured iron as luminous vitrines, with a nod to the curved glass of the nearby arcades. A secret door of stained oak lies flush with the cast iron panels: the inverted carving of the timber recalls the mould and sand bed prepared for the molten metal.

Paul Smith Albemarle Street store facade by 6a Architects

The cast iron panels curve in to the recessed oak entrance door, a gently bowed iron step evokes worn away treads. Over time, the iron threshold will polish under foot, recording the life of the building in its material.

  • Colonel Pancake

    Craft, intricacy and materiality: our haptic salvation from the purgatory of theoretical modernism.

    • Kris

      How long have you waited to write that sentence?

  • Iron Block

    Having just renovated a 152 year old building with cast iron facades, I am curious as to how the raw iron panels will weather on this building. I hope there is not as much deterioration as was evident where paint was missing on my project. I do agree that the weathered iron is incredibly beautiful.

  • Munchman

    Have to say I’ve been getting a bit sick of the gaudy retail facades that have been posted on dezeen lately but this is pure class. Elegant, understated and not trying to get into a shouting match with the retail product itself.

  • pauline

    Beautiful.

  • Dave

    This is an absolute eyesore, completely out of context, and a total insult to this historical street. Little surprise that the architects are reluctant to provide photos of anything other than close-up detail.

  • DISEGNOINOPERA

    Excellent!

  • Gary Walmsley

    Wow! Style and craftsmanship. This is stunningly refreshing in an era of endless flat dead panels.