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Offices 'a hit' in theatreland

Devereux Architects has completed this new £8 million office building with apartments on a prestigious site in London's Shaftesbury Avenue.

The 5153m2 building is the result of four and a half years of work with developer Jarrah Properties. During that time the architects won an appeal to build an extra floor on top of the block but 'in the end' the client decided not to proceed. The practice also had to deal extensively with the planners since the building lies on a site between the Bloomsbury and Covent Garden conservation areas and directly above the future Cross Rail tunnel.

Now, however, Shaftesbury House is finished and a deal is being tied up with a single tenant which wanted to be known only as 'a major us telecommunications company'. It is employing Swanke Hayden Connell to do the fit-out.

Devereux was asked to meet a brief requiring a 'distinctive' building to make a positive contribution to the varied scale and character of the street. It also had to design a building which would attract a tenant from media, advertising or similar industries and be lettable floor by floor.

The planners were adamant that it should not be 100 per cent offices - so five apartments line the back of the building on New Compton Street, one on each floor: a one-bed and four two-beds. Above these, the building steps back with sloping glazing to respect the rights of light of surrounding buildings. The tenant company may take all the flats, which have seven parking spaces in the basement.

The office accommodation is contained within an external envelope of precast reconstituted-stone panels and storey-height structural silicon glazing. The panels are a light terracotta colour and there is a general emphasis on contrasting large areas of projecting lightweight glazing. The main circulation of the building is centrally located with lifts and stairs and wcs.

One of the main features, however, is the circular glazed tower, which provides meeting rooms or extra office space with views. It is built using 20mm thick curved and laminated anti-sun and clear glazing, and is the largest installation of curved glass in the uk. A brise-soleil gives shade to the tower and south elevation. The tower - illuminated to create a 'halo' effect - becomes a gazebo-like enclosure on the roof, where it gives onto a terrace for staff on balmy summer evenings.

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