40 Chancery Lane is a BREEAM Excellent office and retail development located on a prominent corner site within the Chancery Lane Conservation Area, and is occupied by advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi
The new building for developer Derwent London replaces a series of dated 1950/60s buildings on Chancery Lane and Cursitor Street. Its mass respects adjacent listed buildings by acknowledging the surrounding scale, materiality and key views. The volume steps up in height to provide three linked blocks of high-quality office accommodation separated by service cores, with a ground-floor retail unit providing active street frontage.
The development incorporates original fragments of one of the existing 19th-century brick-built Took’s Court buildings, part of the original Took’s Court that features as ’Cook’s Court’ in Dickens’ Bleak House. These have been integrated into the design, separated from the new, exposed concrete-framed construction, with a slender top-lit atrium, the differing floor levels connected by angled bridges.
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A landscaped courtyard leading off Chancery Lane, a conscious reference to the building’s collegiate neighbours in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, is central to the design, reinforcing the surrounding historic street pattern of narrow passages leading to open spaces and courts. Accessed via a double-height passageway incorporating artwork by Susanna Heron, this space lies at the heart of the development, overlooked on three sides by the new-build office with activity provided by the movement of three scenic lifts in concrete-framed shafts that form the elevation of the service core.
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The street elevations are composed of piers of strikingly veined Italian travertine separated by precast concrete sills at each floor level. These form deep window reveals which, through the play of light and shadow, articulate the façade when viewed obliquely. The courtyard elevations in contrast are more modest, with smooth-faced, exposed precast elements providing a framework of masonry around the glazing. The scheme has since won a 2017 RIBA London Award.
At Bennetts Associates we prefer to be associated with our projects throughout the construction process — either via design-build contracts with novation or through procurement methods based on professional collaboration such as construction management. This enables us to be closely involved in the way our buildings are put together.
The new commercial offices on Chancery Lane for Derwent London is one such project where the developer was passionate about good design and interested in the use of good quality materials to their best effect.
The innate variation in any natural material and the need for relative consistency, both visually and in terms of technical performance, meant that managing the stone was extremely important. This was achieved by several visits to both quarry and stone processing works over the course of the project.
We visited Campolonghi, the stone processing works, near Pisa, several times over the course of a year to ‘dry-lay’ the entire facade. This ensured that guidelines were adhered to and that the distribution of stone was visually acceptable — appearing sufficiently random. Technically unacceptable slabs with excessively large holes were eliminated and replaced, and some slabs were moved around to create a better mix of types as necessary. Priority to the slabs considered most attractive was given at ground and first floor levels where they would receive most scrutiny, and stones with sharp edges to fissures or holes were moved higher up the elevation, out of reach.
Alison Darvill, associate and project architect
Start on site September 2012
Completion March 2017
Gross internal floor area 13,156m2
Form of contract Design and Build
Construction cost Undisclosed
Architects Bennetts Associates
Client Derwent London
Structural engineer AKTII
M&E / Environmental consultant Arup
Quantity surveyor AECOM
Project manager Buro 4
Acoustic engineer Clarke Saunders Associates Acoustics
Access consultant Arup
Landscape architect J&L Gibbons
Lighting design Pritchard Themis
Façade Engineer Arup
Fire Engineer Jeremy Gardner Associates
Façade access consultant Reef Associates Ltd
Ecologist AECOM (formerly URS Scott Wilson)
Security consultant QCIC
Façade consultant – stone and precast Sterling Services Ltd
Façade consultant – glazing and cladding Felix (UK) Ltd
Washrooms Maxwood Washrooms
CDM coordinator Jackson Coles
Main contractor Morgan Sindall
Approved building inspector Butler & Young
CAD software used Microstation
Annual CO2 emissions 31.14 kg/m² (internal floor area)