5 Aldermanbury SquareEdit profile
In 2001, EPA was appointed to design a new office scheme on a site adjacent to London Wall. The 19 storey building consists of two staggered wings divided by a receding central section, admitting daylight into the triple-height reception area. Floorplates in excess of 15,000 square feet were required with external elevations that were highly glazed, uncomplicated and unobtrusive, thus maximising the natural light and aspect from all floors. The building sits between Aldermanbury Square and Wood Street. Redevelopment of the site offered an unrivalled opportunity to re-establish a physical and visual connection between the two, creating a new third territory located within the site at ground level. The new hard landscape provides seating, a 30m long water feature and a cascade. The concept The building is an architectural story of connections and crossings. It lies at the crossing of the axial roads of the Roman Fort; it draws together Wood Street and Aldermanbury Square by the creation of a new public space under its cartilage. Prior to the redevelopment, an analysis of the traffic and pedestrian movement through the site revealed the use of Addle Street by vehicles to be relatively low, but showed pedestrian traffic across the site to be substantial. In light of this, the design brought the connections made at first floor level down to the ground floor wherever possible, reinforced with clear sightlines and legible routes between spaces. The volume of the new building is formed of a pair of connected elements or �wings�, the effect of these is to break down the mass and volume of the building, creating an interesting interplay of shadow and light when viewed from the southern side of the site where it is viewed in the context of the Guildhall and St Paul�s. To maximise the new public realm at ground level and to take advantage of wonderful views, particularly to the south rising through the floors of the new building, the principal eight lift core was pressed as far to the north as possible. The theme of crossing is reflected in the east west passage both to the reception space and the public spaces, and the form of the building as two wings (east & west) separated by a belly that undercuts to allow the penetration of south light to an otherwise 35m wide undercroft. The triple-height reception area creates a physical and visual link between Wood Street and Aldermanbury Square. The entry into the lift lobby framed by a giant in situ cast board marked concrete wall to either side, creating the counter axis north-south. The context 5 Aldermanbury Square has made a significant contribution to improving an area of the City that had been neglected and blighted by poorly designed developments. The new building relieves the congested nature of Aldermanbury Square and breathes life into the area. The generosity of the ground floor public space, and the associated remodelling of the Square provide an attractive place for people to pass through, or stop and sit. At the same time the reorganization of the stair and ramp connecting to the Barbican high level Walkway, and the addition of a new lift, provides much improved access to the street level on the south side of the Barbican Estate. In particular the new ramp, designed to improved standard, is the only non-mechanized access route to street level on the south side of the Estate. Sitting in the backdrop to St Paul�s the soft sheen of the stainless steel facades gently reflect the colour and tone of the neighbouring buildings and the changing sky. The gentle upper curvature of the east and west elevations mediate between earth and sky and the giant order of the facades is composed of a stacking and weaving of stainless steel elements punctuated by joints and gaps. At ground level the generous height beneath the building echoes that of 88 Wood Street, and establishes the scale for the whole territory beneath the building. This is dramatically reinforced by the use of a polished stone soffit over the public space which draws the eye through the space reflecting the landscape in the opposite street when viewed from the Square, and vice versa. When standing beneath the building the vertical structure is reflected, giving the impression the building above is �floating�. The triple storey height space continues uninterrupted into the glazed Reception bounded by a giant in situ cast board marked concrete wall to either side, creating the counter axis north-south to the dominant east-west movement beneath the building. This is reflected in the material of the large water feature to the south which provides a screen to the entrance ramp of the adjacent Police Station, and masks vertical air shafts into the basement. Structure and materials The ground floor materials have a geological character: granite, concrete, water, over which the steel framed building is �perched�. This palette of materials extends into Aldermanbury Square, a separate design commission to EPA from the Corporation of London using S106 monies from Scottish Widows. The synthesis of the fa�ade design and the desire for a �clean� floor plan began with the decision to place the vertical structure outside the line of the curtain wall. A fa�ade that recedes from an uninterrupted external plane has been developing through a number of preceding projects, particularly Foundress Court, Cambridge (1997) and 30 Finsbury Square (2002). At 5 Aldermanbury Square pressed stainless steel panels cloak the vertical box section piers which are fabricated from Corten plate for corrosion resistance and filled with reinforced concrete for fire resistance and as a means of joining sections. The 3mm thick stainless steel panels that cloak the structure and spandrels have a shot peened finish which, unlike a brushed finish, has no pronounced direction and creates a very responsive surface to light. The pattern of joints respond to structural and bridging elements of the bay design and involve very long sections to create the double order.