We started our business in London and are delighted to have worked on so many iconic buildings, both decades and even centuries old, as well as more recent additions. Together, these make the capital’s skyline so unmistakeable and certainly one worth celebrating.
Beginning at our headquarters on the famous address of Old Bailey, with the bells of St Paul’s cathedral tolling in the vicinity, join us on a ride around town, spotting some memorable BW projects as we go.
Past St Bartholomew’s Hospital and around by Smithfield market, which forms the gateway to Clerkenwell, we arrive on St John Street. Here we come across the Farmiloe Building. This grade II Listed building takes its name from the glass and lead merchants which once called it home. Since then its many uses have included being a hub for Clerkenwell Design Week and a film set for features including Sherlock Holmes and Inception. Now its Victorian architecture is fully restored, and modern workplace amenities added such as raised floors, a bike lift and changing facilities with over 100 lockers.
While livestock are no longer driven up St John Street as was the case in centuries past, the area stretching from Farringdon station and up and down the arterial streets of Central Street and Goswell Road is home to a variety of creative industries from architects to graphic designers and advertising agencies. Here you’ll find Harella House. Once the home of a prominent 1930s garment manufacturer, this six-floor CAT A office let on Goswell Road boasts natural light thanks to its large Crittall windows. Two new terraces, meanwhile, enhance its commercial appeal, with the increasing demand for outside space in offices.
White Collar Factory
As Clerkenwell Road gives way to Old Street, this is where the tech sector boomed at the dawn of the twenty-first century and London’s own version of America’s West Coast is clustered around ‘Silicon Roundabout’. Standing in prime position here is the White Collar Factory, complete with a running track on top. This building is the result of ten years of research by architects AHMM. Ultra low-energy, it was constructed with a ‘long life, loose fit’ approach consisting of a simple frame and windows that open for maximum flexibility throughout its years of operation.
in recent times, the lines between the Square Mile and Shoreditch have been blurred, as the traditional industries of the City such as banking and insurance have needed to attract those with more digital skills. Now, pinstripes and business suits rub shoulders with hoodies and headphones. This, the tallest tower at the heart of the City, is conceived as a ‘Vertical Village’ for 12,000 people with high ceilings, natural light and fresh air at the heart of the design, boasting well over 1500 cycling spaces and even its own climbing wall!
70 St Mary’s Axe
Just a few minutes down the road in the Square Mile is 70 St Mary’s Axe, colloquially known as the ‘Can of Ham’. This building, completed in early 2019, is a newer addition for its famous neighbour at No 30, the Gherkin. Two curved facades give it its nickname with the base of the building giving back to its surroundings space-wise with ample public realm. The building has a classic central core so that every floor has a rectangular shape and is clad in glass panels with a mesh at the top to hide the heating and cooling units.
Blue Fin Building
Skirting onto the fringes of Whitechapel and then down by the river passing the Tower of London as we go, a quick hop over London Bridge brings us to the area known as Bankside. Sitting adjacent to the famous Tate Modern gallery, the 50,000 sq. ft Blue Fin building has a dramatic double-height entrance which rises 12 floors up. It takes its name from the blue aluminium vertical fins on the outside, which help with solar shading. The 7.500 sq. ft roof terrace provides views of the capital to the north, south and east.
Once again crossing the Thames, this time courtesy of Blackfriars Bridge, we arrive at 100 Embankment, otherwise known as Unilever House with its remarkable curving frontage. Originally built in a Neoclassical Art Deco style in the 1930s, it was redeveloped in the late 2000s with careful modernisation alongside preserving the grade II Listed structure. Office space is provided in the Crescent and Watergate wings, with access across the building courtesy of a sequence of suspended bridges and platforms. The revamped 100 Embankment subsequently scored a BREAAM Excellent rating for its energy efficiency, conservation and reuse of materials.
A drive along the Embankment brings us to London’s theatre district in Covent Garden, where you’ll find the Adelphi Building. Boasting a prominent position between The Strand and the Thames, the main entrance is on John Adam Street, named after one of three brothers who constructed the site’s original Georgian houses. There are Art Deco details aplenty from the Portland stone façade and classic columns on the outside to the copper spandrels and etched glass panels in the entrance lobby. It’s undergone a contemporary redevelopment to provide over 155,000 of Grade A office space.
One Heddon Street
A short hop around two of London’s best-known landmarks: Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus leads to Heddon Street, a road made famous thanks to David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust album cover. At one time home to the New Gallery Kinema, known for showing silent films in the early twentieth century, this grade II Listed building is now a flexible workspace over six floors. Daylight floods through black aluminium partitions into the desking spaces while the materials emphasis has been on luxury finishes such as marble and brass, juxtaposed with natural materials including ash and Douglas fir, creating a light, airy feel.
4 Pancras Square
From one of London’s most historic cultural centres, we can travel back north to one of its newest in King’s Cross. Here, high quality office space such as 4 Pancras Square, is interspersed with retail, hospitality and all-ages public realm. There are ten storeys of fully fitted out office space, now let to Universal Music, as well as an office reception at ground floor, which benefits from widely spaced columns. The building has a distinctive façade consisting partly of weathering steel, recognising the area’s part in the industrial revolution, with white glazed ceramic for the brise soleil shading.
We hope you enjoyed part 1 of BW’s tour of London. We feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to have worked in a City with so much history.