Squire & Partners deliver a detailed concept for global entertainment brand Ministry of Sound's new private members club, The Ministry, featuring a stand-out bar, lounge and terrace bar
By Toby Maxwell
All images by James Jones
Global entertainment brand Ministry of Sound is opening a private members club and shared workspace called The Ministry for the use of its members and clients from within the community of music, media, culture and technology.
The unique space in south London will feature a number of defining features, the most striking of which is perhaps the 21m-long bar spanning the entire ground floor. However, the whole facility will also include an immersive technology studio, 36-seater cinema, soundproofed production suites, events space, and a restaurant and year-round outdoor courtyard serving coffee, cocktails and drinks to members and guests. There is even a secret tequila bar in the ladies’ bathroom.
The site has been designed by architecture practice Squire & Partners, working with Ministry of Sound to deliver the detailed concept. The client decided from the start that it wasn’t looking to create an office or cliché-filled space, believing that for the co-working area to be successful it needed to think about its customers, who rarely sit at the desk for eight hours but do require different activities, environments and stimuli. The focus is on providing members with a range of places from which they can work within the building, ranging from quiet to buzzy and lounging to formal, and both indoor and outdoor.
The bar and restaurant area is at the heart of the building and it was important that this was not to be simply an ‘add-on’ or to have the feel of a glorified canteen. Instead, the client wanted something that would measure up against any other bar in London. The resulting restaurant and bar is the space that visitors pass on their way in, and its aesthetic has informed the way the rest of the space looks.
Simon Moore, creative director of The Ministry, details the challenges of coming up with a versatile space that meets the diverse requirements of its members and other visitors…
‘The main challenge was how to create a completely new brand, with its own distinct look, while also maintaining relevance to the Ministry of Sound itself. Rather than a superficial, obvious, logo-slapping exercise, we wanted the connection to be more subtle and esoteric.
‘At the outset of the project we went back through the Ministry of Sound’s creative archive and picked out the key attributes common to all the best work, and it’s these that led to the identification of the ‘Premium Raw’ aesthetic, which forms the foundation of what we’re doing with The Ministry and is being inherited by it.
‘This has manifested itself in the scheme, which mixes a brutally, stripped-back environment, exposing the raw fabric of the building, counterbalanced with elegant, simple furniture, plush textiles and well considered details. The contrast of these two styles creates a powerful and distinctive aesthetic that’s true to the parent brand’s heritage but feels very contemporary, and is a world away from the sterile, claustrophobic new feel of most working environments and the ubiquitous, vintage-heavy look of members’ clubs – differentiating from that was the other main challenge.
‘The cues for achieving the Premium Raw look came from the building itself, a six-storey Victorian factory that we not only wanted to strip back to show its authentic materiality, but are taking further by leaving the evidence of any work we’ve undertaken.
‘Raw plaster, jagged brickwork and concrete where we’ve punched through walls and exposed ghost signs from the building’s history contrast with slick, bespoke partitioning and luxurious furnishings.’