Holborn House

Great Things Lie Ahead 2020

6a architects x Caragh Thuring 

Photo: Johan Dehlin

riba National Award 2023 Winner
riba London Award 2023 Winner

Great Things Lie Ahead 2020, Holborn House is a new community building with an integral public artwork, in Camden for Holborn Community Association (HCA), an organisation with a 100 year history. HCA’s existing basement gymnasium, hidden deep in the city block, belied its vibrant rosta of community activity. It has been transformed and extended with two new storeys. The new building is outward facing, bringing visibility and identity within the neighbourhood, reflecting the importance of the community to this historic and commercially dense inner-city borough. 

Photo: Johan Dehlin

Re-use is core to the project, the old concrete infrastructure of basement and ground slabs, columns and sheer brick walls were retained, stripped back and the new design in/onto them, An area of the existing concrete ground slab was cut to insert an entrance ramp, and a new lift was inserted into the structure to make all of its floors fully accessible. A New ASHP system provides heating and cooling but the building can be passively ventilated throughout. 

Photo: Johan Dehlin
Photo: Johan Dehlin
Photo: Johan Dehlin

The gym is insulated and acoustically relined with Thurings handwoven panels. A new lightweight roof has sky views. Two new floors offer sunlight, transparency and connected spaces, welcoming and safe. White painted steel trusses unfold from the new entrance introducing views deep into the block, The new public artwork is integral to the architecture, it brings the rich history of Holborn’s community back into the public realm. Materials are simple and direct, attention paid to detail and finish. Construction is legible in exposed timber joists, stacked on steels, resting on blockwork. Proprietary bathroom tiling is transformed with Thurings gridded patterns and colour, the brightly coloured mesh balustrades reference Holborns origins of forest. The curtain wall glazing of the façade is transformed by the local stories, names, events and places inscribed across it in etched mortar lines, traced from multiple eras of the surrounding brickwork. The new studios, changing rooms, workspace and clubrooms can engage new audiences. Each space is designed equally for hire to grow HCA greater financial independence. 

Photo: Johan Dehlin

The alleyway is repaved with new planting and a tree for greater species diversity, the name of the artwork Great Things Lie Ahead is inscribed into it, a universal invitation to possibility.   

Additional Information

Architect: 6a architects 

Artist: Caragh Thuring

Structural Engineer: Price & Myers 

Environmental Engineer: Ritchie+Daffin 

Signage & Typography: John Morgan Studio

Landscaping: Dan Pearson Studio

Contractor: Quinn London

Building Control: Sweco Building Control Ltd

Project Borough: London Borough of Camden

Joinery: Jones Neville, Nic Rhode

Façade Artwork: Protoglass; Glass ceramic fused silk

screen print into double glazed units

Photography: Johan Dehlin

HCA and 6a architects worked closely in securing the funds for the project. Holborn House has been made possible thanks to the generous support of:

Arper, Arts Council England, Bourne Amenities, Camden Council, Camden Council Street Licensing & Highways, City Bridge Trust, Thomas Dane Gallery, Deepdale Trees, Gardenlink, GreenBlue Urban, Hargrave Foundation, HS2 Community and Environment Fund, Hobson Trust, Camden Council Highways, Ize, Junckers, Kvadrat, London Marathon Charitable Trust, Marshalls Stone, Mayor of London Good Growth Fund, Little Greene, Power to Change, Sport England, 3VB Charitable Trust, 29th May Charitable Trust, Volker and many private individuals.