Alma-nac creates the Axis music studios within the outdated London warehouse


Architecture studio Alma-nac has renovated a former warehouse in south London to make room for music studios that line a central “street” decorated with panels of geometric plywood.

Alma-nac designed the facility for London-based The Axis, which aims to provide music professionals with a nationwide network of writing and production spaces.

Above: The axle is in a former warehouse. Above: Alma-nac introduced an internal road

The Axis on Ormside is the first location of the organization and meets the need for acoustically designed songwriting and production studios with facilities for customers.

Located in a former industrial estate in South Bermondsey, the brick warehouse has been identified as a suitable location due to the abundance of creative businesses and the proximity to reception facilities at the nearby Atomic Studios.

A brightly colored and patterned corridor made of plywoodThe main street is decorated with panels of geometric plywood

Alma-nac made optimal use of the interior volume of the two-story building by creating a full-height space that exposes the existing roof trusses and lets in daylight through new transparent panels that are inserted into the roof.

The architects created an internal street that runs along the back of the building and is flanked on either side by ten soundproofed studios.

A teal door that leads into a London music studioIt leads to ten soundproofed studios

“The existing building provided weatherproof housing and the freedom to create a range of carefully controlled local environments and position them as if each studio were a house on a street,” said Chris Bryant, director of Alma-nac.

“This arrangement allows residents to meet and work independently while maintaining the expanse of the original structure.”

Colorful plywood walls in a London music studioThe bright colors refer to the branding of The Axis

A small reception desk is located next to the entrance of the building and a staircase leads from this lobby area to a communal lounge and meeting area which is in the first part of the building.

The architects claimed that the use of inexpensive materials and basic craftsmanship throughout the project was inspired by the 1974 publication by Italian architect Enzo Mari entitled “Autoprogettazione,” which encouraged individuals to make their own furniture using wooden planks and simple tools to manufacture.

A music studio with white walls and blue-green acoustic panelsSplashes of color can be seen throughout the building

The decoration on the studio walls that face the inner street is made of plywood sheets that are cut into geometric patterns with a computer-controlled router.

The pattern refers to the work of the kinetic artist Carlos Cruz-Diez, whose Physichromie series from 1959 examines how color and pattern change from different perspectives. It also reduces waste by using all of the wood panel.

A colorful lounge in the Axis music studios in LondonThe building has a communal lounge and a meeting area

“We were fortunate to work with an ambitious client and together we had a zero-waste strategy of resizing the studios to the standard material dimensions and using all of the pieces of CNC machined plywood,” added Bryant.

Red Bull Music Academy by Langarita-Navarro Arquitectos

Red Bull Music Academy by Langarita-Navarro Arquitectos

The bright color scheme and mosaic patterns are influenced by Joana Pereira’s branding for The Axis. The electric-orange roof trusses contrast with a dark teal used in the internal street, lobby area, and front view of the building.

Soundproofing played an important role in the development of the interior. Therefore, the specialist company Gillieron Scott Acoustic Design was brought in to ensure that the studios are structurally isolated and use interiors selected to control reverberation.

A studio lounge with plywood bookcases and plantsThis room is also provided with plywood fittings

Alma-nac was co-founded in 2009 by Chris Bryant, Caspar Rodgers and Tristan Wigfall. The studio takes a participatory approach to all projects, involving customers and other stakeholders to ensure they deliver a positive experience to their users.

The studio’s previous projects include a pet emergency hospital with colorful details and bespoke furniture. Alma-nac also renovated and expanded a house in south London that is encased in a second skin of gray brick.

The photography is by Jack Hobhouse.