Few materials illustrate the passage of time quite like brick, especially when historic examples are partnered side-by-side with contemporary masonry products. This is certainly true of the nearly completed Borough Yards development in London, where the new large-scale shopping and dining district is on track to rub shoulders with the old Borough Market in Southwark. Opening on December 13 with the area’s first cinema complex, the preliminary section of the precinct, titled Soap Yard, invites visitors to take a first look at the grounds ahead of the grand launch in spring of next year.
Tracing the path of a long-forgotten medieval-era street pattern, the Borough Yards project connects Borough Market to Clink Street and the River Thames. Along the route, a series of out-of-service warehouses, brick-lined archways and viaducts have been transformed into new and useable spaces. Developed by investment firm MARK and designed by London-based studio SPPARC, the precinct sensitively intertwines contemporary building additions with the historic architecture of the meandering site, employing innovative brickwork to connect the old structures with the new.
First look: Borough Yards in London prepares to welcome visitors
“We have always been passionate about two things: creating brands for places and breathing new life into heritage spaces and buildings, making them fit for purpose for the modern age,” says Marcus Meijer, CEO at MARK. “With Borough Yards, we saw an opportunity to do both,” he suggests. “Leveraging the world-famous reputation of Borough Market, and taking inspiration from the Victorian architecture that makes up the site, we have worked with SPPARC to deliver a new commercial and cultural district that is anchored with new public realm, and a compelling restaurant and bar offering, while also creating a new shopping destination in an area that has been historically underserved by retail.”
Fulfilling the role of increasing retail tenancies, an arcade area connecting the two ends of the district will see a series of restaurants and shops housed in the expansive double-height Victorian arches, with two new office buildings to be operated by The Office Group also located within the scheme. At the gateway to Borough Yards sits the 185-square-metre Paul Smith fashion store, which is now open on the corner of Stoney Street. Bold neon lighting by FRA Creative illuminates the new public square and will guide visitors from the Everyman cinema and Soap Yard precinct to the greater Borough Yards offering.
“At Borough Yards, retailers have a unique opportunity to build unforgettable flagship experiences in beautiful raw-brick, cathedral-scale spaces,” says Trevor Morriss, principal architect at SPPARC. “These splendid industrial structures weave and stitch history and heritage together with contemporary architecture.” From early 2022, Borough Yards’ first bars and restaurants will begin to open in these spaces, including Barrafina, featuring its archetypal marble bar; the second Parrillan venue, where diners can cook at their own tables over mini parrilla grills; and Bar Daskal, a Spanish wine and sherry bar offering cold tapas. Fried chicken will be on the menu at Butchies; the brunch-spot Brother Marcus will lure patrons with Eastern Mediterranean flavours; and Vinoteca will dish up fresh ingredients from the neighbouring Borough Market. More retail shops, new public spaces and further bars and restaurants will follow throughout the year.
Few materials illustrate the passage of time quite like brick, especially when historic examples are partnered side-by-side with contemporary masonry products.