A sustainable, reuse-oriented design process resulted in an innovation-focused headquarter for The Mills Fabrica.

Key features

The Cottam House located in London’s King’s Cross – a former industrial building – is the newest hub of sustainable fashion startup incubator The Mills Fabrica. Untold Interiors and Barr Gazetas teamed up to design the headquarters – The Mills’ first outside of Hong Kong – which comprises a concept store, innovation gallery for sustainable brands, café, membership-led workspaces, tech lab for prototyping, start-up incubation programme and curated events space.

The designers retained as much of the site’s original architecture as possible, with many pre-existing materials reused and repurposed. The building’s entrance has been carved into what was once a vehicle drive-through, now an enclosed lobby with black metal framing and large glass panels to allow plenty of natural light. Parquet flooring was recovered on the ground floor, which includes spaces like a showroom-cum-events space and café. Cream-coloured terrazzo flooring is found throughout the space and its original window frames were restored. Two large meeting tables, found on the upper workspace floors, were commissioned from Dirk van der Kooij, made from melted-down plastic waste. Other (literally) green initiatives were incorporated to complement the sustainable narrative. Landscape architect Wayward designed vertical-farming units that will be used in the ground-floor café, providing locally sourced produce.

Frame’s take

‘Extending the lifecycle of present materials by reusing and repurposing them prevents the need to extract new materials in the first place, avoiding the creation of a larger environmental footprint,’ we previously wrote about Art Hub Copenhagen, a recently opened cultural space constructed only with pre-existing materials from its site. While The Mills Fabrica’s London headquarter contrarily sees the introduction of new raw materials, pre-existing materials and elements were upcycled or repurposed as much as possible. 

This exercise in sustainability also confronts designers with the need to think creatively by using what is already available to them and honour pre-existing architectural and aesthetic features. Aware of the history of the Cottam House as well as the brand’s mission to facilitate sustainable fashion, Untold Interiors and Barr Gazetas utilized the space’s already present materials as much as possible.