The Groucho Club is one of London's most iconic members’ clubs; but established and beloved as it may be, its legendary Soho venue was increasingly in need of modernisation, made up of a mix of existing buildings, additions and tweaks done over the years. Enter emerging and locally based architecture practice Transit Studio, led by director Ben Masterton-Smith. The architect and his team have just unveiled their carefully crafted renovation and interior design of a series of rooms, as part of The Groucho Club’s forward-looking strategy.
The series of contemporary architectural interventions, which were planned in collaboration with the venue's former creative director, Alice Anthony, have ‘unlocked a complex retrofit puzzle across three existing buildings to create a new flexible events space for a wide variety of purposes', explain the team. The changes start at the ground-level reception, where a brand new front desk was built with the help of Studio Wilson-Copp.
However, the heart of this facelift is a large, flowing, open-plan space in the upper levels of the club. The architectural gestures were significant but delicate and decisive, transforming the space in a way that feels organic – like it was always there. Masterton-Smith maximised windows and ceiling height, knocked down walls and composed a series of interiors that feel bright, light and airy – as well as colourful, as opposed to the rest of the club’s darker, moodier look. The new space has been named The Carter Room, to celebrate Nicky Carter, The Groucho's director of art for the past 30 years.
The adjoining Gennaro Room was also redesigned with a feature bar wrapped in waterjet-cut stainless steel, topped with a rare blue-purple marble and including dramatic arched shelving at the back. Designer Matthew Elton created bespoke coffee tables that can transform into longer dining pieces for bigger events. A few steps down from there is The Mackintosh Room, an art-filled lounge with a concealed TV option.
‘We were asked to develop a series of new spaces that better serve the club and host events in one location,’ says Masteron-Smith. ‘This was no simple task and it has involved a carefully organised strategy to remove existing rooms across three buildings and a number of level changes. We’re so pleased with the elegant, contemporary rooms we have created that will better serve The Groucho and yet still retain its character.'
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Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture Editor at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018) and Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020).
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