Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Printworks London may reopen by 2026 after developers submit plans

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Printworks London, the 6,000-capacity post-industrial superclub, could reopen by 2026 after property developers that own the site filed their plans to Southwark council.

British Land and its partner AustralianSuper, one of the country’s largest pension funds, submitted a detailed proposal to the council on Monday to redevelop the site in Rotherhithe into a permanent cultural venue just over a year after the cavernous club shut its doors.

The pair are in exclusive talks with Broadwick, the electronic music and arts operator that ran Printworks through a six-year temporary consent, to operate the new venue. It would occupy one half of the existing building, which was once home to the printing presses of the Daily Mail and Evening Standard, while the other half, known as the Grand Press, will be turned into offices for 1,500 workers, and shops. They hope to receive planning permission within a few months.

Printworks forms part of British Land and AustralianSuper’s £6bn Canada Water project across 22 hectares (53 acres) south of a bend in the River Thames, opposite the skyscrapers of the Canary Wharf financial district. Forty buildings are planned with up to 3,000 new homes – of which 35% will be affordable – and offices with space for 20,000 workers.

Metalheadz concert at Printworks. Photograph: Jake Davis/HungryVisuals

“What appeals to us about it is that it’s creating a new piece of city and a new district for London,” said Emma Cariaga, who jointly leads the project for British Land. “We intend to create a permanent cultural venue and put it on the map globally. Over the last six years, Printworks has become an iconic venue for electronic music and one of the top five clubs in the world. But our plans seek to push that to deliver a much broader programme.”

Architects Hawkins\Brown have sought to preserve the original industrial look of the Press Halls, which would host electronic dance music club nights, concerts, immersive art shows and corporate events. The Inkwells would become a performance space for immersive exhibitions and intimate music events.

British Land proposes building a terrace overlooking a new park that the site overlooks. Photograph: Broadwick

British Land intends to salvage as much of the original printing equipment as possible, including much of the last press – which is four storeys high and weighs 150 tonnes – rollers, paper storage racks, ink lines and valves. The final paper roll, which was still in the press, would be retained in the building.

The building, which was constructed in the 1980s by the Daily Mail Group, overlooks a new park near the Thames. British Land plans to add a rooftoop terrace to the building, as well as a series of new suites for meetings and conferences with views of the Press Halls.

Over the six years it was open from 2017 under a temporary consent, Printworks hosted 300 concerts, 200 film shoots and other events, including an immersive opera staged by the BBC Proms.

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The dance floor Printworks, which has been named the world’s second-best music venue. Photograph: Peter Summers/Getty Images

“Having a big, versatile cultural venue in the area is important,” said Paul Clark, AustralianSuper’s head of real assets in Europe. “We don’t want to have a monochrome office environment or a dormitory suburb.”

Before it closed down last year, Printworks was named the second-best music venue in the world, ahead of Ushuaïa in Ibiza and Berghain in Berlin, in a study by DJ Tech Reviews. It was second only to Manchester’s Warehouse Project.

The newspaper printing site was built in a residential area and had to be designed as an “absolutely tight box” to avoid noise complaints from neighbours, which also means the acoustics inside are good, Cariaga said.

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