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LAUNCH PAD [ new openings + refits ]


WC M


ost will translate the acronym WC as a water closet. It is said that in the underground corridors of the War Office in Whitehall there was a locked door with a small printed sign saying WC. To gain access you needed to


obtain a key, which was unavailable to most. It was of course the office of Winston Churchill. There is also a WC sign at ground level on a street in Clapham Common, it points to stairs that lead to an under-pavement space that was once a men’s public convenience but has now been reinvented as a Wine & Charcuterie bar, although here there is still plenty of evidence of its former use. The designers, Barnes Design, have retained many of the key features and they determine the overall design, layout and function of the space. For example; the attendants office, carefully reconfigured to form an integrated bar and kitchen or the water


closets, morphed into three intimate and private booths with surface mounted services and soft lighting. During the strip out, love letters from users were found wedged behind the wooden partitions. The mosaic floor was vigorously cleaned and retained with two of the original urinals kept to create the compact unisex toilets to the rear. The rustic finish was achieved by reusing most of the existing materials and adapting them. The atmosphere is dimly lit and understated. It is a “jazzy” type concept which feels like an underground members club but (it is claimed) serves the best wine and charcuterie in SW London. Barnes Design have done an excellent job here. It is immediately obvious what the space was but even more obvious what it is now. Buildings with history should rightly be preserved for the nation, but not always moth-balled. This underground space has now been given a new lease of life but its fabric remains. And what of its history? Well, several eminent politicians were known to have frequented the space, and not always for its primary function. Perhaps those hidden love letters have their own story to tell. WC (Wine & Charcuterie), Clapham Common, London SW4. Tel: +44 (0)20 7622 5502 www.wcclapham.co.uk


GS Magazine 7


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