Foyles, Charing Cross Road, London

E. P. Wheeler and H. F. T. Cooper of London County Council Architects Dept
Date Built
107 Charing Cross Rd, Soho
In 2017 when I took these images, this building on Charing Cross Road was a huge Foyles bookstore.  However, this was by no means always the case.  It was built in 1938 and at that time was home to the St. Martin's School of Art ....

.... and the College for the Distributive Trades.


Alan Powers, in an article for the 20th Century Society in January of 2015, says that, ".... This is a building with ‘modern’ ornament, like the deep carved mouldings and abstracted pilaster capitals of the Portland stone framing around the doorways, with the carved reliefs relating to shop display by Adolphine M. Ryland, of whom I know no more than I do of the architects. Percy J. Delf Smith, a noted teacher, First World War artist and practitioner of lettering and heraldry, did the LCC coat of arms and the inscriptions."

After the colleges moved out, Foyles purchased the building and commissioned Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands to convert it into a new retail space for their book retailing business. 

The architects say on their website that, "... Foyles will sell a range of over 200,000 different titles on four miles (6.5km) of shelves. With 37,000 square feet of flexible retail space, spread across eight shop floors in the two halves of the four storey building, the interior layout allows for easy navigation and the serendipitous discovery of new books. The scheme strips away a century’s ad hoc accretions to reveal the original structure of the old art school building. By enlarging the existing central lightwell, an atrium is created which floods daylight into the centre of the building. The whole bookshop is manifest and easily accessible, with only one short flight of stairs required to connect between each floor section and glazed fronted lifts servicing each shop floor. .... A new cafe, gallery and event space provide the facilities for an ambitious programme of in-store events. At the rear of the ground floor is the original assembly hall and gym – a magnificent space that was used to host meetings and dances. A mezzanine was subsequently added, which largely destroyed its volumetric quality: the conversion has removed a significant part to restore the double-height space."

The building received the RIBA National Award and London Architect of the Year awards in 2015.  It also won the AJ Retrofit of the Year Award - Overall Winner and Retail Winner in 2015.