Shoreditch nightclub ‘destroyed by a kiss’ rises from the ashes

The winning building in Tabernacle Street

The winning building in Tabernacle Street - Credit: Archant

A Shoreditch nightclub decimated by a fire - famously started by a kiss - has risen from the ashes in the form of an office, and is now one of 38 of RIBA’s winning projects demonstrating exceptional new architecture in London.

Sosho Fire

Sosho Fire - Credit: Archant

The fire in Sosho in Tabernacle Street engulfed parts of London in thick smoke in March 2010 as 100 fire fighters battled for hours on end to put out the blaze, which caused £40m in damages.

The fire was famously started by a kiss when a waitress wanted to give a canoodling couple some privacy and lit the candle on their table half an hour later than usual.

The Ikea candle was designed to burn out after eight hours, but by closing time at 2am, when all the other tealights had burned out, it remained alight and forgotten as the staff left, and CCTV footage shows how the tiny flame sets off an inferno.

By about 5am, the flames had spread across four floors of the Victorian building and neighbouring buildings – including the private members’ club The East Room.

The fire reduced the buildings to a blackened mess but no one was hurt.

Five years on the building has been turned into an office designed by Piercy & Company Architects, who picked up an accolade at the 2015 Royal Institute of Britich Architects (RIBA) London Awards - the capital’s biggest celebration of architecture and architects.

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Judges considered the contemporary spaces inserted behind the Victorian building’s re-constructed façade, “intriguing”.

The main challenge presented to the designers was providing light to the rear room, which is enclosed on all sides.

“The jury enjoyed the journey from the front door to the office space beyond and found it both surprising and intriguing,” said the judges.

“Wherever possible, generous windows, and quirkily angled and inserted roof lights make for light and airy spaces.

“The timber clad core, and suspended lighting at angles drawn from the complex geometry of the building, complete an elegant and harmonious design,” they concluded.