Idea Store Whitechapel

Adjaye Associates, London, 2004


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The Idea Store was Adjaye Associates' first public building 

Tim Soar (website)     Download Original

  • The Idea Store was Adjaye Associates    
  • It is built in a tight urban context, making inventive use of materials    
  • The Idea Store, handy for the shops    
  • The ground floor surf centre    
  • Circulation animates the street frontage at Chrisp Street    
  • Keeping the palette elemental: rubber stud flooring, unpainted timber shelving and ceiling, plus a band of perforated metal and strawboard    
  • Main space looking toward the front with the tinted glass lighting the timber fins, plus occasional rooflights    
  • View of the library from a classroom    
  • Child    
  • Children    
  • Ground level plan    
  • Podium level plan    
  • Section A-A    
  • North elevation    
  • West elevation    
  • East elevation    
  • The first Idea Store, at Bow, a conversion by Bissett Adams    

Community centre that houses library and continuing education services plus dance and health facilities

The building is a sleek, highly glazed box; while the front is of two storeys facing south to the street, most of the building behind is on the first floor, sitting on an existing podium above small single-storey shops, reading as an upper storey to them along the narrow unroofed shopping mall to the east.

To the north the store disappears among existing buildings as it meets Chrisp Street open-air market. To the west it sits on the podium in retail backlands, a black opaque face that is largely unseen. Its four entrances emphasise accessibility.

Organisationally, the Idea Store involves the bringing together and rethinking of library and continuing education services. Small exhibitions run in foyers while stores house libraries of books, as well as a wide variety of audiovisuals. Other rooms provide locations for courses, run by the borough and with partner organizations. Dance and health facilities are also located in the building.


  • Begun: Apr 2003
  • Completed: 2004
  • Floor area: 5,000m2
  • Sector: Arts and culture
  • Total cost: £2.1M
  • Tender date: Feb 2003
  • Procurement: Traditional
  • Address: Idea Store Whitechapel, 321 Whitechapel Road, London, E1 1BU, United Kingdom

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