Reflecting on repurposing


Here we outline the benefits of repurposing and discuss some of our favourite projects to date.

Morrow + Lorraine are supporters of the RetroFirst initiative, we strive to maximise the potential of pre-existing buildings, and reduce waste wherever possible.
“We are a practice expert in repositioning, re-imagining and rethinking buildings, places and spaces to better suit the environment, context and ultimately those who use them.”

The “repurposing” of old buildings, that is – the reuse of buildings that have outlived their original purpose – is an important aspect of sustainable development. By minimising on-site waste and new foundation requirements, repurposing can drastically reduce the carbon footprint of a project. It also serves to preserve historic buildings and their distinct features that might otherwise be lost. LETI’s hierarchy for embodied carbon reduction encompasses the link between repurposing and reducing emissions. The quote below from Max Fordham’s Net Zero Carbon Guide outlines the necessity of retrofitting and repurposing:

“The embodied carbon associated with the construction of a typical new building can be equivalent to 20 years worth of its operational carbon emissions, in the future as our new buildings tend towards ultra low operational energy consumption, then this could conceivably stretch to 40 years.”
Heirachy for Embodied Carbon, adapted from LETI

Repurposing at Morrow + Lorraine

Many of our projects involve the repurposing of old buildings, from an Art Deco office building (133 Whitechapel), to the former Cordon Blue cookery school (116 Marylebone Lane),  Morrow + Lorraine strives to reduce embodied carbon emissions wherever possible, whilst preserving the cultural heritage of historic buildings. Some of our favourite repurposing projects are detailed below:

116 Marylebone Lane

The renovation of the façade and restoration of the original brickwork & shopfront turned this once D1 Non-residential institution into B1 offices.

“This sensitive extension and refurbishment retained key features of the original Art-Deco building, enhancing the existing built fabric whilst maximising the impact of the new design proposals: improving the available workspace, increasing the floor area and enlivening the public realm. A minimal aesthetic and a refined material palette, inspired by the original building, were selected to attract occupiers from the creative industries, not previously found within the area.” – John Harkness, Senior Associate

CP Hart Flagship Showroom

The redesign of this brick-arched showroom saw the incorporation of a new generous café space, and an overall expansion of 570 sqm – making it the largest high-end bathroom destination in the UK.

“The CP Hart Showroom was formed within a series of brick arches beneath the Waterloo Station railway tracks. Through the clever use of natural materials, low-energy air-conditioning systems and ingenious plumbing a dark, damp and stale subterranean experience was transformed into one that was inviting, dramatic and atmospheric.” – JJ Lorraine, Director

133 Whitechapel

This beautiful 1930s Art Deco building was refurbished and redeveloped from a D1 space to B1 office co-working accommodation and remains one of the most eye-catching buildings on Whitechapel High Street.

“At 133 Whitechapel a triple story light shaft was inserted to bring daylight into the lower levels vastly improving peoples experience of working in the building. Landscaped roof terraces, courtyards and patios were provided with native tree planting and wildlife friendly shrub and herbaceous planting to foster ecology and enhance biodiversity in the City.” – JJ Lorraine, Director

For more information please get in touch at