London – As the English capital is blossoming with flexible spaces to work, it’s also losing its places to play. Since 2011, the number of nightclubs in London has plummeted by 50 per cent, due to high policing costs and gentrification. So what would bring one of the city’s most long-standing and outspoken clubs to open a co-working and private members space?
As a landmark of South London for 27 years, Ministry of Sound sensed an opening in the market and, in July, opened The Ministry. The work spot has been as selective as a vigilant doorman about who to let in, focusing on companies in tech, music and the creative industries. But before bringing in freelancers, start-ups and established businesses, the club owners invited local architects Squire and Partners to transform a Victorian-era printing factory located in Southwark, less than a four-minute walk from the club. The brief? ‘The aim was not just to offer a place to do business,’ said Squire and Partners’ Tim Gledstone. The firm was instead tasked with creating an experiential space that could transition for work and play, a place where creatives could be immersed in a ‘convivial and creative way of life.’
The building was stripped to reveal original timber flooring and brickwork. Plaster patching on the walls exposed an elegance in its history, while hinting towards the rough industrial legacy of the nightlife institution. But that’s where the associations with the mother brand stop: the apartment-style meeting areas filled with high-end furniture and rich materials make a clear statement that head banging has no place here – but if need be, there is a place just around the corner. Indeed, the roughness is just the right amount that private membership would allow, making both the post-rave and Gen Z crowds feel included in the exclusivity.
Beyond the design of the space, experience has been built into each environment: from a tequila bar by the women’s washroom to a virtual reality studio, screening and sound production rooms, a 22-metre bar and a sit-down restaurant. And if the physical spaces aren’t enough, The Ministry brought in musician and producer Tom Middleton to design soundscapes for the bar, garden, dining rooms and workspaces. The reasoning? Gledstone pointed out that sound offers creatives a new way of thinking that ‘alerts and evokes emotions that can stimulate memory and creativity.’