Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Horns Road, IG2

Recently we were telephoned by the proprietor of a former petrol station at Horns Road in Barkingside, East London who after a few years using this property acting as a Sue Generous, has decided to close it down and rented to a company who runs several hand car wash garages locally.

The reason of the call was to seeking advice to how best to convert the former kiosk into a little eatery selling sandwiches, wraps, and hot baguettes. His equivalent to American restaurant giant ‘Subway’!

Not to miss out on an excuse to stretch our legs and take the car for a drive after a period off the road due to a spell in our mechanic’s garage we decided to whizz along the A12 eastbound. At the stretch known as Eastern Avenue - where the Central Line crosses the A12 near Newbury Park Underground Station - we turned off onto Horn Road. The fast pace of the dual carriageway giving way to relatively subdued road acting as a trajectory to a swathe of suburbia linking the A12 with Barkingside.

Horn Road former petrol filling station now used as a hand-car washing complete with vacant kiosk

Visiting the site at twilight we were struck by how urban picturesque it felt. Secured by the calming nature of the deep blue sky coupled with the quietly efficient pace of car wash-men going about their business, we waited silently in the car. Simply observing and thinking how calm the scene. The seclusion and reassurance of the light within the kiosk; the clean lines of this unremarkable structure hinting at the aesthetics represented in the American filling stations of artist Ed Ruscha.

Ed Ruscha, Standard Station, 1962

Back at the office we discussed how the kiosk might be adapted. We then returned the telephone call to the client to discuss the project brief. Once we were formally appointed, we visited the property the following day for a second time and undertook a full measured survey.

With the intentions of submitting a Planning Application for a Change of Use to London Borough of Redbridge, Studio Idealyc was instructed to prepare a set of nominal architectural drawings illustrating the proposal.
Studio Idealyc's front elevation of the empty kiosk

It transpires the Client wishes to retain the small building to the rear of the kiosk for his car wash people to sit and wait for customers. In other words the size of the project is guided by the existing. Ideas varied from an ice cream parlour to soup kitchen to sandwich shop.

Plan of the property (Area 14.5 sq.m)

Based on the principles of practicality - and thinking that nobody would really want to spend anytime there beyond the time it takes to wash their car - we thought that a sandwich shop might perhaps be the most sensible. Have you ever attempted driving whilst devouring an ice cream or eating soup? A sandwich is surely the better option.

The view from beneath the canopy of the former petrol filling station

However in retrospect, the work of Ed Rusha leads us on to the paintings of Edward Hopper and the lonely spaces these represent. Could the romanticism of Hopper be a good enough reason to pause and imagine the landscape of Barkingside as a Hopper painting, and the little kiosk serving as a destination in its own right?
by Edward Hopper, Nighthawks, 1942

No comments:

Post a Comment