The Terrace, More LondonEdit profile
More London commissioned Hawkins\Brown to consider proposals for a characterful, unoccupied and almost derelict terrace of buildings located along Tooley Street. The group of five buildings made up one of the last remaining plots awaiting development by More London. Its immediate neighbours include the Greater London Assembly building, two 10-storey high office buildings pre-let to Norton Rose and Lawrence Graham respectively, Potters Fields Park and the Unicorn Children’s Theatre. The Terrace comprises a combination of refurbishment, façade retention and new build intervention. It accommodates small-scale retail space at ground floor with flexible and adaptable studio space above over three floors. The St Johns Tavern, a public house on the corner facing Potters Field Park has been refurbished and linked to the main development. The flexibility and unique nature of spaces, has meant the entire building has been acquired by Red Bull as their UK headquarters. It will be the base for their administration providing gallery, showroom and exhibition space to ground and lower ground levels. More private launch spaces will be located on the upper floors as well as creative workspace and meeting rooms. It is anticipated that St John’s Tavern on the corner will provide Red Bull with their own in-house pub to entertain their staff and clients. Urban Fabric The Terrace lies within a conservation area and remains a fragment of a former historic streetscape, albeit now in a very different context. The Terrace mediates in scale and design between the smaller, historic scale of Tooley Street and the multi-storey buildings within More London. It is part of a ribbon of buildings along Tooley Street which create a jewel-like fringe to the More London development. Each has an individual character to bring focus to the street rather than appear as the back edge of the development behind. The collection of buildings is considered as one and the treatment of the elevation responds to the entire 360-degree outlook around the site, in contrast to the existing back-front typology. Detailed analysis of the structural condition and historic value of the buildings was undertaken to determine which elements were important to retain historically, or contributed to the townscape setting. The buildings that were removed offered the greatest opportunity for the new elements of structure to exert a presence onto the street elevation; heralding a new life and dynamic for the building and its surrounding context. The Terrace was made up from a number of individual structures whose floor levels (due to their differing ages and sequence of construction) were not contingent with each other. Hawkins\Brown, working with the structural engineer, investigated a number of floor level configurations to establish a structural datum whilst making an efficient floor to ceiling height; creating flexible open floor plates and improving accessibility. Façade The concept for the facade was inspired by a party game of lifting a teacup with a balloon without physically touching the cup. The Terrace is analogous with the teacup as a ‘host’ with the balloon being seen as the new intervention pressing itself against the host’s existing structure and exerting its presence without overwhelming it. The proposal intends to provide a transitional element that mediates and joins rather than separates the new More London development with its immediate context, not only physically but also in its purpose and social context. The new intervention is notionally visible through the existing elevations contributing to the concept of the building as a host. It is intended that the old and new building elements complement each other and present an engaging presence to the new streetscape. The materials selected for the new build elements have been carefully considered to respond to the new context of the More London development whilst respecting the historic buildings of the terrace. The massing of the new element was derived from the existing terrace buildings. The rhythm of the glazing mullions is generated from the existing window configuration and the massing from the existing adjoining buildings. The rhythm established within the new curtain walling to Tooley Street is repeated around the new build element to the North Elevation. A material change from glass to more solid panels occurs to identify the change in buildings between 155-169 and 171 St John’s Tavern, however the established rhythm is maintained. The new facade is designed as a flush glazed system in a seemingly irregular pattern with a combination of glass and anodised aluminium panels. The choice of colour and material and pattern was as pragmatic as it was poetic. The solid, new build element to the rear consists of anodised panels concealing service cores and vertical circulation (lifts and stairs). The facade becomes more transparent as it wraps around the building with glazing making up the majority of the elevations to the South and North, thus maximising the light within flexible workspace and offering a degree of transparency through the building. The curtain walling consists of a combination of clear and coloured glass with varying degrees of transparency achieved through the deployment of fritting to disguise floor and ceiling interfaces and transparent coloured film inter-layers which offer visual warmth and character. The coloured glass has lower solar transmission factors and has been used to assist with reducing glare and heat gain within the building. The intensity of colour is focused along the South elevation for maximum effect. This dissipates towards the North elevation where it is replaced with clear glass to allow maximum light penetration. The colour palette was developed by ‘sampling’ the colours from the buildings and environment of Tooley Street. A number of colour studies of varying intensity and distribution were prepared and samples tested within the studio to understand the effects of coloured light falling within a workspace. Much consideration was given to the final selection of coloured glazing ensuring that warmth of the predominantly umber and red colours were balanced with a blue/green glass. At night the combination of lighting and colour acts as a notable beacon along Tooley Street, signalling the regenerated building and celebrating its new life.