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Alsop designs Southwark office


Office dwellers are to have an opportunity to enjoy the creative designs of Alsop & Stormer. The practice has designed its first uk office building, on a prominent site in central London, for Blackfriars Investments, the developer for which it produced its proposal for the home of the Greater London Authority - runner up to Foster's proposal.

The new scheme, just submitted for planning permission, is a 30,000m2 building which will go opposite the new Jubilee Line station at Southwark, an area of the city undergoing rapid regeneration with the Tate at Bankside nearing completion. Alsop's 13-storey building, just submitted for planning permission, would replace the existing 1960s Orbit House. There was an existing planning permission for redevelopment of the building for the owner, a pension fund. Designed by bwcp, this would have extended the area from 13,000 to 21,000m2.

Alsop & Stormer's design comprises three interconnected horizontal slabs. The tilted ground-scraping base block lifts up towards the west and cantilevers 6m above the pavement, creating a dynamic public space beneath it and a dramatic entrance to the building. The slab, at levels 9 to 12, forms a 'cloud' floating above Southwark. The top slab will provide executive office space. Between the first and second slabs will be a projecting glass 'skirt' shielding an outdoor social space.

The 'abstract elevations' clearly define the different parts of the building. Although the elevations are at least as imaginative as at c/plex and Peckham Library, behind them Alsop has managed to pack in dense office space, with 30m-wide column-free offices on 12 levels.

The structural engineer is Buro Happold and the space-planning consultant is Pringle Brandon. Hanscombes is the quantity surveyor and mace is the project manager.

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