Top down view of the White Chapel Building

The White Chapel Building Refurbishment

Delivery of a two phased refurbishment project, home to the London School of Photography
  • Customer
    Derwent London
  • Procurement Route
    Two stage D&B
  • Completion Date
    July 2018
  • Quantity Surveyor
  • Form Of Contract
    JCT Standard 2011
  • Project Manager
    Blackburn & Co.
  • Structural Engineer
    Elliot Wood
  • Area
    270,000 sq ft
  • Architect
    Fletcher Priest
  • ME Engineer


The White Chapel Building was part of a two phased approach, with phase one completed in 2016 and phase two in 2018. The building, which is part of client Derwent London’s portfolio saw us work closely in phase two with both Derwent London and the new tenant, Fotografiska which enabled the team to complete the scheme in line with the tenant’s vision and timeframe.

What we did

Phase one began in 2015 with the works including the strip out and refurbishment of floors one to seven, a full redevelopment of the ground floor, in addition to the creation of a new impressive entrance.

Phase two works consisted of refurbishing and extending the lower floors of the building, along with remodelling the external staircase and public walkway. Installations of a new external structure, unique galvanised cladding, height glazed screen and new lifts were also part of scheme.

Within seven months of completion of phase one, the building was fully let with new tenants including GDS, Wilmington, Perkins+Will and Reddie & Grose, whilst phase two was pre-let in its entirety to Fotografiska and operates as the London School of Photography.


Making it happen

Across both phases the team worked closely with Transport for London (TfL) due to the proximity of the Aldgate and Aldgate East underground stations, ensuring that there was no disruption to the underground network. The team also had to coordinate the external work of the project around the laying of a new cycle superhighway outside the building, which was given priority access. By building a strong working relationship with TfL helped ensure an effective delivery. Phase two of the project required a temporary road closure, although the team were able to complete this with minimal disruption across two weekend periods.

Minimising disruption to tenants was of paramount importance to our client and a key element of the project’s resulting success. Although working in a live environment did present challenges as the higher floors were already occupied, the project team overcame this by holding weekly meetings with the tenants to keep them up to date on all works and developments.

Making a difference

To support our commitment to social value, this project saw us employ four apprentices across a total of 38 weeks, whilst also providing ‘traineeships’ and work experience placements to two young people. On the apprenticeships, we had two electricians, a joiner and a construction operations and civil engineer. By providing skills and employment opportunities for our local communities also helps us to promote the wide variety of careers in construction.