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The Algha Works building in Hackney, now the Hackney Wick Plantroom location, is a perfect example of early 20th-century industrial architecture. Built between 1907 and 1908 by Henry C Smart for Waterlow & Sons printers, the structure’s original design was intended for printworks. However, by 1932, its purpose shifted when Wiseman & Co. began using the facility for spectacle manufacturing.
The factory played a significant role in the optical industry during the mid-20th century. At its peak, it produced 2.5 million frames per year and was responsible for the gold-coated spectacles distributed by the NHS in the 1940s and 1950s. Today, many of those original machines from the 1930s are still operational, with the building now housing Savile Row Eyewear, a brand known for crafting eyewear for celebrities.
Architecturally, the Algha Works building features stock brick cladding with a steel and concrete framework. The design incorporates large metal casement windows above the ceiling and colourful stall-board light bricks in the basement, which were innovative at the time. These features and the interior’s glazed brick walls and original doors and windows highlight the building’s function and history.
Algha Works stands as a testament to Hackney’s industrial heritage, offering a glimpse into both the past and present of eyewear manufacturing.
Location: London, E3
This location oozes raw utilitarian industrial character.
The building has functioning toilets, is flooded with natural light & has an open plan. The space size is 2,500sqft/232sqm with an entrance size of 1,5m and high ceilings of 4m.
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