Department W, the former Wickham’s Department Store, is a 4-storey, 100,000 sq ft building located on Mile End Road, in the heart of Whitechapel. This iconic property was built in the late 1920’s with the Wickham family aspiring to create a ‘Harrods of the East’. The building is well known for the holdout unit, which splits the neo-classical façade in two. The two parts of the Wickham’s building form part of a greater design, anticipating the eventual purchase of a unit belonging to the Spiegelhalter family business of clockmakers. However, the Spiegelhalter’s refused to part with their premises leaving the odd situation in which the new store was built around the family shop, which continued to trade when Wickham’s opened on both its sides.
The proposals seek to refurbish Dept W into modern office space, with a sensitive new extensions to the building. The Spiegelhalter façade, the only surviving element of the hold-out unit, is to be preserved and carefully restored to turn this void into the new entrance and heart of the redevelopment as an homage to the Spiegelhalter story.