Amrit was a fourth year student of the Nissen Richards teaching unit at London Metropolitan University, where the brief was to create a new museum and archive in Hackney.

Site axonometric

Revitalising history, rather than merely recounting it, has been one of the key endeavours of this scheme in several ways. The East End Textiles Museum is simultaneously a celebration of industrial heritage and a hub for contemporary textiles craft and design, providing galleries, maker and market spaces, archive and opportunities for public enjoyment of the canal location.

The new metal arch facades. The primary arch, secondary rhythm and decorative cladding - the geometry and configuration has been informed by elements of the existing site, historic ironworks, and details of textiles crafts. 

East London has long been famous as the home of the 'rag trade', the common name for the textiles industry that defined much of the area’s history. Beginning in the 18th century with the arrival of Huguenot refugees from France, the work was popularised by their expert silk weaving. In the following centuries, new waves of immigration to the area helped to further and reinvent the trade, with the communities of Jewish tailors in the 1930s and Bangladeshi textile workers in the 1980s being notable examples. As the industry became more globalised, textiles crafts and businesses have declined in the area, though there is still the presence of various immigrant communities in the fabric shops in Spitalfields, as well as new designers and more specialist businesses. The proposed Museum aims to highlight the rich history of textiles in the East End through its displays, as well as to create a place of making for contemporary textile work and design, reviving the area as a centre of craft.

Internal street 

Located alongside Regent’s Canal in Hackney, the museum occupies a site with origins as the Victorian-era Henry Grissell Ironworks, which produced cast iron elements for the Floral Hall and Royal Exchange, amongst others. Having been built upon several times since the 19th century, the resulting architecture has a unique mix of styles, yet is still industrial in character.

A detail view of the zinc roof over the market hall, which sits on original and replica trusses

Currently, the buildings serve as a photography studio and self-storage premises, though the site’s earliest use as an ironworks informed the approach for its renovation. Removing the less substantial later additions (without replacing most of this footprint) allows the original building fabric to breathe, and creates a far more permeable site with opportunities for public open space.

Market hall 

Visually, the new interventions seek to contrast with the remaining yellow brick elements. In an allusion to the historic site use, the architecture references Victorian ironwork with a language of metal arches and glazing. The rhythm of these arches has been formed in response to details of the site, creating a contemporary interpretation of a classic typology. Patterns and linework in metal were also investigated as graphic symbols of textiles processes. The motif is used in a variety of ways across the scheme, as screening, denoting entrances, as an outdoor canopy and as a procession within the central internal “street” from road to canal.


Through this scheme, the site is transformed into a central point for both craft and community, allowing up-and-coming textile makers to thrive in their work and be able to share this with the public. Alongside the galleries, new circulation routes and open areas, the resulting spaces create a destination that is once again an, active, vibrant celebration of East End history, deserving of its place on the historic canal.

Canal frontage