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AHMM completes major mixed-use retrofit project in Old Street

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The Bower, a new 48,300m² mixed-use quarter next to London’s Old Street roundabout, has taken six years to complete

Allford Hall Monaghan Morris has designed the £115 million office and public realm project. The site – where Old Street meets City Road – was acquired by developer Helical in 2012 with a brief to reappropriate the collection of existing office buildings with large swathes of car parking.

The bower ts hr (1)

The bower ts hr (1)

Constructed in the 1960s for British Telecom, the buildings have been retained and extended, with a two-storey hole cut in the front slab block to link the site to Old Street. Behind this block, a mews was completed to frame the new studio buildings – this is lined with ground-floor retail, restaurant and bar space.

The buildings were originally designed by the architect Cecil Elsom and comprise of a 14-storey slab block accompanying an eight-storey warehouse. The exposed concrete, brick spandrels and precast panels have been retained on the warehouse, while a new exposed steel frame for the tower supplements this.

AHMM has increased the floor area by extending the tower upwards and outwards, providing floors with double-height spaces to alternating sides of the building and creating an interlocking section. This gives the opportunity to connect floors and provide flexibility, meeting the demands of today’s workspaces. Original concrete columns have been retained throughout in addition to peeling back the concealed services in the warehouse to reveal the concrete underside of each ceiling slab – the traces of fixings and glue left visible as both pattern and patina.

The bower ts hr (6)

The bower ts hr (6)

AHMM has cut through the base of the tower building, creating a visual connection to the new landscaped street and courtyard. The pedestrianised street creates a new route connecting Old Street to the backstreets of Moorfields.

The development has been given a BREEAM Excellent rating for Offices and a BREEAM Very Good for Retail.

ahmm the bower ground floor plan

ahmm the bower ground floor plan

Architect’s view

The Bower builds on AHMM’s experience of reusing and recycling buildings, and remaking pieces of the city to reflect contemporary requirements and anticipate the future. As a by product of the new mews, the new buildings form thin and irregular wedges – the polar opposite to Elsom’s Cartesian grid approach. But interestingly, the spatial character and unusual volumes they generate means that they have let extremely well.

Simon Allford, founder, AHMM

ahmm the bower section

ahmm the bower section

Project data

Start on site 2014
Completion October 2018
Gross internal floor area 46,080m²
Gross (internal + external) floor area 48,300m²
Form of contract or procurement route JCT Design & Building with two-stage tender
Construction cost £115 million
Architect Allford Hall Monaghan Morris
Client Helical
Structural engineer Waterman Group
M&E consultant Sweco
QS Arcadis
Accessibilty & equality consultant David Bonnets
Lighting consultant Lighting Design International
Facade engineer Arup
Landscape consultant Townshend
Acoustic consultant Sandy Brown
Project manager GVA Second London Wall
CDM coordinator Orsa
Approved building inspector HCD Group
Planning consultant DP9
Transport planning consultant Curtins
Right of light consultant GIA
Facade access consultants D2E
Main contractor SISK / Skanska
CAD software used MicroStation
Annual CO2 emissions TBC

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Heartening to see buildings being skilfully reused and recycled, rather than being trashed way before their expiry date.

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