An Insider’s Guide to Haggerston

Ed Reeve
An Insider’s Guide to Haggerston

The Storey team was keen to work with Ed Reeve to photograph the site; he is not only a globally celebrated photographer of architecture, but a Haggerston local, and we knew he would truly capture the essence of the area. 

Ed has travelled extensively throughout the world on commissions and his work has been featured widely in architectural and design publications. His love of architecture brought him into a collaboration with architect Sir David Adjaye in building a timber eco house in London in which he lives with Michela Meazza, a dancer with Sir Matthew Bourne’s company and their two children.

Here Ed tells us what the area means to him, how it has changed and why Haggerston is truly a special place to live, work and play.

I’ve lived in De Beauvoir, which borders on Haggerston, for 14 years. Before that I was in Shoreditch, which is just south of Haggerston, so I’ve been in the area nearly 25 years. Given the current state of the world, most of us are having to stay local and there isn’t anywhere in London I’d rather be than Haggerston. 

I’m writing this from the newly opened Route cafe directly opposite Storey’s 6 Orsman Road on the canal. No photoshoot for me today so I went to Salus, my local gym, dropped my bike at the charity run Better Health Bikes for a repair, (they also have a great bakery next door) then spent the morning catching up on emails with a decent flat-white. I put my laptop away for lunch, watched life go by along the canal and am now writing this before picking my kids up from school down the road. 

Haggerston and Hoxton have changed a lot since the mid-nineties when artists and photographers like myself came here in search of cheap warehouse spaces to use as studios. With low rents it became a testing ground for young chefs and restauranteurs to start their own ventures. A thriving scene of trendy bars, restaurants, quirky shops and galleries quickly ensued, and the area was globally reported to be the mostly densely packed hub of creativity in Europe at the time – I was truly a part of something. 

It’s here that I started out as a young photographer, capturing the designers and their work of the vibrant emerging scene. One of those young architects was David Adjaye, now knighted, with whom I built my home, known locally as EdsShed. It’s become a much visited and photographed landmark for young architects. 

Today, the community here is diverse and packed with creatives. A great many of the parents we’ve met through the local school are architects or designers. The cafes in the daytime are a mix of freelancers working away on their MacBooks and local mums with their babies. You hear a huge range of languages being spoken here too. London is very international but Haggerston, being a new neighbourhood for many 1000s of people in the new developments has a fresh rich mix.

I now travel around the world to record the work of many of those early collaborators, including Andrew Waugh, the architect behind Storey who is internationally renowned for his expertise in low carbon buildings, of which 6 Orsman Road is one. 

The Storey building at Orsman Road is a great contribution to the character of the area. It’s a bright modern building that’s very pleasing to look at. It has wonderful facilities and views from the terrace. As a freelancer I have no requirement for a large office but am quite jealous of the business residents who will be moving in to 6 Orsman Road. The more people we have working in the area, the more supported local businesses are. This is especially important at the moment when so many are struggling with all the restrictions that are being put in place, so we are delighted that British Land have moved into the area and that Storey is becoming a core part of our community. 

We were blessed with beautiful weather on the day we shot 6 Orsman Road; I was on site at 6.30am to catch the early sun on the canal-facing side of the building. Being local was a great advantage when setting up the shot of the street frontage on Orsman Road. There was a car parked that obscured my view and therefore ruined the straight on shot I had planned of the whole building. I recognised it as belonging to one of the parents from the school! I called him and he happily obliged to move it. The shot just wouldn’t have happened with the car there and it’s my favourite shot that has been used as the lead image in many design publications.

I feel lucky to live where there is such a strong appreciation for the neighbourhood. The assortment of cafes, bars, restaurants and shops are all independently run by people who care a lot about what they serve – you won’t find any chains here. 

With all the development that is going on in the East, especially around Stratford, Haggerston is perfectly placed between the East and West End, and it’s near the financial city too. As a photographer who works on location, it’s the perfect place to be based because I can get anywhere in London really easily. I can truly see why Storey has opened up shop here and am excited for its new residents to explore and love Haggerston like I do. 

Ed’s Haggerston hot spots: 

  • Morning coffee: There’s a tiny coffee van usually parked outside Haggerston Station in the morning, otherwise there’s The Shed opposite
  • Curio Cabal is a cafe halfway between the station and Storey
  • Lunch: There’s big salads at Bread & Butter, who also do healthy breakfasts. For Ramen there’s Tonkotsu and if you’re looking for a big meal after work with friends there’s Berber&Q
  • Outside spaces: De Beauvoir Square after school which is bathed in evening light and filled with rose beds elegantly displayed in a circle surrounded by mature trees for shade. It’s a great spot and a short walk from Storey
  • Evening jaunts: Duke of York Pub or Sweet Thursdays for pizza
  • For the late nighters there’s bars all along Kingsland Road up to Dalston or head down to Shoreditch

Read more about Ed Reeve

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