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Arup Associates wins go-ahead for Broadgate arena revamp

Arup Associates has won planning permission to rework its centrepiece arena at the 1980s Broadgate office complex in the City of London

The approval came despite objections from the Twentieth Century Society which claimed key plans to drop the central ‘circle would result in the loss of the two existing generous staircases and informal seating space’ and would ‘be detrimental to the quality of the overall flow of space’.

The scheme includes seven new restaurants, shops, outdoor seating areas and six new kiosks and is a precursor to more fundamental changes to the Postmodern office campus.

Back in June British Land and Blackstone appointed Hopkins to draw up design proposals for the refurbishment of 100 Liverpool Street and 8-12 Broadgate and ‘to enhance the retail and public amenity associated with those buildings’.

Speaking about the circus scheme Tim Roberts, of British Land, said:‘The revitalisation of Broadgate Circle will enhance the public amenity and structure at the heart of Broadgate, whilst preserving its essential character.  It represents a significant investment and improvement in the public realm to create a much livelier and active social and civic space for Broadgate and the wider City. The stronger retail and restaurant element will allow more people to linger and enjoy the space and the performances and activities in the Circle.’

Declan O’Carroll of Arup Associates, said: ‘Broadgate Circle is a place for gathering and social activity and its spatial sophistication and memorable structure will be retained and celebrated in the new scheme.

‘The additions to the Circle will be simple and elegant in design, sensitive to the original character of the Circle, whilst improving circulation, visual coherence and emphasising the unique civic qualities of the Circle.’

The Twentieth Century Society’s planning objections:

  • ‘Lowering of the circle would result in the loss of the two existing generous staircases and thus informal seating space. This would also be detrimental to the quality of the overall flow of space and inter connection of levels, currently provided by the dramatic theatre space in its position at ‘mid’ level.
  • The relocation and reduction in width of the principal stair from its central position under the first floor gallery will result in the loss of symmetry and prominence provided by the staircase that currently emphasises this design feature.
  • The character of the space would be changed by a much stronger and more obvious retail emphasis at lower ground floor, provided by the new restaurant uses, as well as the larger kiosks at ground floor level. It was felt that this alteration would be detrimental to the original intentions of the space to be provide a ‘place of counterpoint’ to the surrounding buildings and uses, thus harmful to the character of the arena.
  • Members also took the view that the increase in size of the retail kiosks at ground floor level would provide a much greater sense of enclosure than currently exists on this level. Combined with the increase in the restaurant space that will project further into the arena at first floor level, it was felt that the end result would be a greater sense of enclosure. This would also have a detrimental impact on the overall character, eroding the amphitheatre character currently afforded by the careful set back of the first floor level’.

    Arup Associates' proposals for Broadgate Circus

    Arup Associates’ proposals for Broadgate Circus

Previous story (AJ 09.05.2012)

Arup Associates reveals Broadgate arena revamp plans

Arup Associates has submitted plans to rework its centrepiece arena at the 1980s Broadgate office complex in the City of London

The scheme for British Land and the Blackstone Group includes dropping the central space by 1.5m, seven new restaurants, shops, outdoor seating areas and six new kiosks

Last month English Heritage, which failed to get the Postmodern office campus Grade-II* listed in a bid to halt Make’s controversial proposals for 5 Broadgate (see AJ 15.06.2011) said it was ‘comfortable’ with new the plans to overhaul the iconic Circle at the heart of the estate.

Declan O’Carroll, of Arup Associates, said: ‘We are trusting and hoping that people will judge the scheme on its merits. We think it is a very sensitive design.

‘Our scheme recognises there will be a large number of new people moving in the area because of [Make’s] 5 Broadgate scheme.’

He added: ‘Currently there are not intuitive indications that this is a public space and it is very difficult to navigate. Hindsight is a great thing but lowering the main stage, which currently obliterates sightlines, looks so obvious. As a result [of this] we will have to redesign the edge conditions.

‘But English Heritage told us that they fully support what we have done and have said that even if [they had been successful in getting the estate listed] they would still have supported these proposals.’

More controversially it is understood British Land has now applied for immunity from listing for the arena and phases one to four of the estate - the elements of Broadgate turned down for statutory protection by Culture Minister Jeremy Hunt last June.

The news sparked this response from the Twentieth Century Society which backed English Heritage’s recommendation for listing last year. A spokeswomn said: ‘We will be objecting to the certificate on the grounds that the whole estate is of outstanding architectural and historical interest, and there are elements of the development that are listable in their own right.

‘Despite the loss of numbers 4 and 6, we still view the remaining Arup/Foggo elements as the most coherent and successful parts of Broadgate clustered primarily around the arena.

‘In addition, we have never supported the listing of Broadgate as a means of stopping any alterations to the buildings – listing does not mean a blanket ban on all development. Adding the buildings to the statutory list would help give them the national recognition they deserve.’

Broadgate: Architectural Press Archive RIBA Library Photographs Collection

Broadgate: Architectural Press Archive RIBA Library Photographs Collection

Broadgate Cirle revamp - design statement

The famous Arena ice rink will be retained during the winter months and a range of diverse acitivities will continue to take place over the rest of the year. Broadgate Circle will have an enhanced performance space, with sightlines greatly improved at the lower levels by reducing the level of the performance space at its centre. 

A stronger and more diverse retail offer is proposed. Seven restaurant and  retail units at lower ground level will be arranged radially around the performance space, each with a dedicated area of outdoor seating covered by canopies to allow use of the seating areas for most of the year.  Six new kiosks will be created at ground level, two of which form entrances to the reconfigured first floor bar restuarant and terraces.  

The basement level allows a number of the lower ground units to spread over two interconnected levels and also accomodate new leisure uses such as bespoke health and fitness. The additions to the Circle will be simple and elegant in design, sensitive to the original character ot the Circle, whilst improving circulation, visual coherence and emphasising the unique civic qualities of the Circle.

Broadgate Circle is a place for gathering and social activity and its spatial sophistication and memorable structure will be retained and celebrated in the new proposals. The proposals have been developed to complement and enhance the existing qualities of the Circle and as part of the evolving masterplan for Broadgate. 

of the Circle.  The unique amphitheater character of the Circle is reinforced. This performance circle is retained and redefined, creating a more engaging social and civic space for people.”

 

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