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Allies and Morrison reveals Keybridge House plans

Allies and Morrison has unveiled its plans to redevelop Vauxhall’s Keybridge House skyscraper into 379 homes, shops and offices

The scheme will see the brutalist south London landmark - a now-redundant 15-storey tower designed by G.W. Mills and Associates for the Post Office in 1975 - flattened and replaced by a mix of apartments, maisonettes, work space and 4,500m² of public space.

The masterplan, which went out to public consultation last week, also includes outline proposals for a new primary school.

Supporting the practice’s case for demolition, the consulation document reads: ‘Keybridge House is now over sized for modern requirements and is in the process of being decommissioned and partly relocated.

‘The current building does not respond in any way to its local context and is a monolithic structure which presents the same exterior on every side.’

The report (attached) continues: ‘At the outset, consideration was given to whether the existing structure could be re-used. However, it soon became clear that as Keybridge House was built to house specialist equipment, it would be extremely difficult and expensive and would result in a very compromised building.’

A planning application will be submitted in July 2013.

Previous story (AJ 24.07.2012)

Allies and Morrison scoops Keybridge House regeneration job

Allies and Morrison has been appointed to redevelop Vauxhall’s Keybridge House skyscraper

Building owner BT and its property partner Telereal Trillium selected the AJ100 practice and CBRE to work up plans for the brutalist south London landmark.

Designed by G.W. Mills and Associates for the Post Office in 1975, the 15-storey tower once hosted the world’s largest digital international telephone exchange.

A BT spokesperson said it was ‘too soon to say’ if the 70,000m² structure would be demolished.

Allies and Morrison and CBRE have been instructed to win planning permission and deliver the 1.4 hectare site to market by summer 2014. Keybridge House is located within the Vauxhall Nine Elms Battersea opportunity area which is earmarked for 16,000 new homes and up to 25,000 new jobs.

BT head of asset management and strategy Sally Leonard said: ‘Keybridge House’s operational life is coming to an end and we are very keen for the redevelopment to play a constructive role in the regeneration of the Vauxhall Nine Elms Battersea Opportunity Area. 

‘We believe we have the opportunity to create a world class development that improves the site’s relationship with the surrounding area and are looking forward to working with the Council and the community to deliver this.’

Herbert Wright, author of the London High guide to the capital’s skyscrapers, said plans to redevelop Keybridge House were ‘sad’ but ‘inevitable’ given the regeneration aspirations for the wider area.

‘Keybridge House is a unique part of our telecommunications heritage, which is an almost completely overlooked element of our built environment,’ he said.

The building’s name is a reference to Telex technology which created a ‘bridge’ between type and telecommunications, explained Wright. ‘Keybridge House housed a pioneering state-of-the-art computer to manage [Telex] traffic, but eventually fax killed the rising Telex star.’ 

He added: ‘Architecturally, Keybridge House is also unique. Its brutalist concrete tower is clad with vertical stainless steel strips and its full-height boiler flues are external. This metallic effect with external service structure anticipated Richard Rogers’ High-Tech architecture.’

‘While Keybridge House is not as iconic as Hubbard, Ford and Partners’ Mondial House – another telecoms building from the same period that was demolished – its loss would be another step in erasing the legacy of Post Office Communications, from which BT came.’

Lib Peck, Lambeth councillor and cabinet member for regeneration and strategic housing said the council was delighted at ‘BT’s determination to redevelop this landmark site’.

She added: ‘Situated in the Vauxhall Nine Elms Battersea Opportunity Area, the proposed scheme is another important piece in the jigsaw of delivering future regeneration and local community benefits to our residents in Vauxhall.

‘We are looking forward to seeing the results of the community engagement that BT is planning ahead of a planning application and the scheme that will emerge from those conversations.’                                                          

A planning application is expected to be submitted next summer.

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