London Screen Academy
Location: Islington, London
Working Title Films
Day One Education Trust
Number of school places: 1,000
Size (m2): 8,050
Contractor: Willmott Dixon Interiors
Completion due: September 2019
Disused and abandoned, a former 1920s radio and television factory in Islington was teeming with historic value, its long-forgotten potential hidden from all but the most ardent developers.
Enter The London Screen Academy – set up by Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner, founders of Working Title Films – with its powerful core mission, to bring new entrants from a diverse range of backgrounds into the film industry. They needed to find a home for this new venture, one that matched the entrepreneurial vision, cultural importance and worldwide impact of their mission. A place with a rich heritage but that could be adapted to the needs of the future.
When two of the UK’s most successful film producers turned their attentions to setting up a brand new academy, a one-of-a-kind cultural institution dedicated to the art of visual storytelling, we knew we had a responsibility to make their chosen home a cutting-edge example of how facilities and astute planning can fuel inspiration and desire. Turning tangible materials into intangible magic.
To bring decaying buildings back to life, to make them fit for purpose for today’s demands, takes real vision to see what can be saved, adapted, renewed, enhanced. Ladbroke House spoke to our hearts as the perfect raw material in which to house film’s bright future.
Preserving the heritage facade, lessening the impact on the local area by keeping the location’s historic grain intact, we nurtured this place through the dramatic internal reconfiguration needed to make the building not only work for the LSA, but to be an industry-leading headquarters for a new cultural institution.
By stripping back the internal frame of the building, and reworking the multi-storey industrial space – replaced with a three-storey professional film production studio and supporting facilities – we have created spaces that will grow with the ambition of this place, surrounded by teaching and workshop spaces that are truly versatile. Taking the inside out, we created a whole new rooftop courtyard, to field film screenings, to play host to informal gatherings and events as a versatile social space, and allow students never-before-seen views over London.
Working in close partnership, The London Screen Academy and Architecture Initiative have redefined what creative education means for the future.
Creative industries are one of the fastest-growing sectors in our economy, accounting for one in six jobs in London alone, but the screen industries are seen as inaccessible, opaque, expensive to get training and difficult to get a foothold in. Through close collaboration with leading industry figures, listening and learning from their keen first-hand experience, we turned a decaying building, all but forgotten, into a shining beacon for future talent and growth in the screen-based arts.