The House of Vans London is a vibrant new 2,500 sq m mixed use creative centre, located within the brick arches of the railway lines heading out of Waterloo Station.
The site was designed for Vans enthusiasts and those interested in skateboarding culture, and contains five separate tunnel spaces.
Network Rail set restrictions included no structural works or fixings being allowed on the brickwork of the arches, in order to maintain the structural integrity of the 150-year-old brickwork.
The House of Vans London is a place to participate in the cultural lineage of skateboarding that has defined the Vans brand since 1966, combining skateboarding, art, film and music.
The venue includes an art gallery, ‘Vans labs’ creative spaces, a screening room, a live music performance venue for 850 people, a premium café, numerous bars and a three tier skate park. This is the largest permanent venture by Vans and the first European edition of the House of Vans, following the first in Brooklyn NY in 2010.
The venue was designed through collaboration between designer and professional skateboarder Pete Hellicar of Hellicar and Lewis and architect and designer Tim Greatrex.
Cost consultants, project managers and CDM coordinators for the scheme were Building Construction Solutions (BCS) and clients agents and construction managers were Black Sparrow Presents.
Following the brief to provide a cultural hub for skateboarding, art, film and music utilising the layout of the tunnels, Pete and Tim delineated the four main functions of the brief so that each was housed within a specific tunnel. They allocated a tunnel for art including a gallery with artist’s labs to create and display art exhibitions; a tunnel for film incorporating a cinema/screening room (which also serves to house talks and debates); a tunnel for music including an 850 capacity gig venue; and a tunnel for skateboarding including a skatepark for all levels of skateboarding.
It was vital that the spaces flowed into one another in order to inspire the flow of ideas through creative pursuits.
Creative design features include the entrance counter, which takes the form of a swimming pool section, complete with pool coping stones and a ‘love seat’. The entrance ramp has concrete banked sides rising from a point to a full wall face and acts as an enticing surface to skateboard, whilst the café/kitchen enclosure form is inspired by the large scale concrete water pipes skated in the US.
The plan for the skatepark was for it to accommodate three tunnel spaces to allow for varying layouts and abilities. The main space is the concrete ‘bowl’ predominantly for professional use, the second area is the ‘street scene’ for medium ability and the third is the ‘mini ramp’ skate park area for beginners or relaxed users.
Another key design feature of the space is the large and impressive rubber floor. The iconic sole of the Vans shoe inspired the hexagons, diamonds and triangle patterns of the floor unifying all of the tunnels
Due to the underground nature of the site, it was important to light the space sufficiently for use whilst expressing the form of the tunnels. Long linear strips of lights were used throughout the tunnels and were positioned at the intersection of the top of the brick wall and the beginning of the brick arch on either side to create a dramatic cathedral-like space.
Within the skatepark, the use of outdoor metal-halide flood lighting not only provides the non-glare high surface even illumination for professional skateboarding use, but also emphasises the beautiful brick ceiling to visitors. Pendant lights hang low over the café tables to create a sense of intimacy, whilst an enfilade of illuminated arches and bays encapsulates the gallery space.
HPES Technical Solutions Ltd
HPES Technical Solutions Ltd are specialist contractors that provide electrical expertise for entertainment, theatre and televised outdoor events. Having recently celebrated 10 years, the firm has provided services to an array of prestigious clients; recently including Babcock, LOCOG and Glastonbury Festival.
HPES Technical Solutions Ltd also provided specialist installation and consultancy services to the Commonwealth Games host broadcaster; SVG TV. Other recent projects include replacing production mains at the London West End Apollo Theatre and they are also in the process of upgrading the emergency lighting power systems at The Lyric Theatre, Shaftsbury Avenue.
We spoke with HPES Managing Director Hugh Percival to find out more about the firms recent
project, The House of Vans.
“We were brought in at the beginning to design the power system for the space. For efficiency and cost effectiveness, the venue was largely electrically stripped and refitted. We worked closely with the architects to design the means of distributing power and lighting arrangements in a visually sympathetic manner. Refreshingly, there wasn’t a fixed specification that we worked to; we were given a broad outline by the architect and provided indicative pricing from there.”
“Once we began work on site, the project benefited from our ability to interpret, design and think ahead; we provided everything from the heavy power installation to the final fit out. We also made provision for the main mechanical containment for power cabling and other services.”
Hugh said it meant a lot to be involved in the House of Vans project, he added:
“We were pleased that the client and architects were happy to work closely with us and trust our judgement about how things needed to be done. It is a project that we thoroughly enjoyed doing and we would welcome the opportunity to work with Vans again on another project of that nature.
“We pride ourselves on attention to detail; our ability to focus on understanding a client’s needs and delivering their requirements.”