At London’s Outernet, the party is starting

The Outernet, with interiors by Archer Humphryes, offers a new, state-of-the-art entertainment venue for London

colourful interior at London's outernet
(Image credit: Jake Davis)

The Outernet, at the top of London’s Charing Cross Road and just behind the newly opened Elizabeth Line station entrance, is hard to miss; a gold-coloured volume, covered in LED screens and moving images, it's almost hypnotic, drawing passers-by into its several courtyards and open-air displays in all weathers. Step inside, for a drink or to watch a performance in one of its several venues, and the experience continues, as the work of Archer Humphryes Architects unfolds.

inside the outernet venue in London

(Image credit: Keith Collie)

Exploring the Outernet

The architecture team at Archer Humphryes, led by founders David Archer and Julie Humphryes, is behind the new London entertainment venue's interiors spaces (working closely with the scheme's masterplanners, the building's designers, architecture studio Orms) – a series of bars, stages and auxiliary rooms that appear generous, elegant and minimalist in the daylight, and come fully alive when flooded with guests and in the throes of a music concert, after dark. It's a place where entertainment meets hospitality, infused with the latest technology, in art, audio and design. 

stage view at the outernet

(Image credit: Keith Collie)

The scheme's two main performance halls, Here and The Lower Third, are designed with 21st-century entertainment in mind. They are framed by a number of smaller bar spaces, green rooms, toilet facilities and back-of-house areas that have been conceived with as much care as the main events. A sense of minimalism prevails, with graphic accents and colourful lighting design that add warmth, fun and drama as required. 

black and white bar inside the outernet

(Image credit: Keith Collie)

At the same time, Archer Humphryes’ interiors project has stitched together a series of old and new buildings on the expansive site, which spans back to Denmark Street and its iconic music business façades and heritage architecture. There's The Lower Third's preserved Georgian brick house, a 19th-century smithy located behind, and the newly built structures on the opposite end of the site. The project also expands below ground, where a brand-new music and events venue can now accommodate over 2,000 people over two floors. 

blue-lit bar inside the Outernet

(Image credit: Keith Collie)

The use of state-of-the-art production, lighting and acoustic systems seems a given in such a large-scale, highly visible production of a space – but the team also had to tackle the additional needs of planning it all above the noise, clutter and vibrations of the nearby underground lines and station. Archer Humphryes, the team also behind the recent revamp of North London's Koko, which similarly brings together old and new, and good, old-fashioned gig experiences with the needs of the 21st-century digital world, jumped at the opportunity to offer its take.  

toilets inside the outernet

(Image credit: Keith Collie)

Now, the Outernet offers a highly flexible venue that can accommodate from traditional, intimate gigs to immersive digital experiences, in a cleverly conceived architectural backdrop. Virtual reality, augmented reality and projection mapping all play a part here; as do more analogue yet equally important gestures, such as Archer Humphryes' specially designed perforated metal wall-cladding panels, found in the main auditorium, which allow maximum sound absorption into the acoustic insulation to a level that is not otherwise available to the wider market.

the lower third exterior shot

(Image credit: Keith Collie)

The architects hope that the project will play a key part in revitalising London’s post-lockdown nightlife. 'Outernet meets the needs of the acts who have booked the venue from around the world, to re-join London’s rapidly re-emerging artistic and social life through 2022 and beyond,' the team state. 

colourful corridor full of projections at the outernet

(Image credit: Keith Collie)

stairs in the outernet

(Image credit: Keith Collie) 

Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture & Environment Director 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), Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020) and House London (2022).