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Fletcher Priest’s Angel Court is an ethereal addition to the City skyline

  • 2 Comments

The striking yet subtle silhouette of the 25-storey tower of this office development for Mitsui Fudosan and Stanhope wraps an existing 1970s core in a fritted glass façade

The foot of the tower – an irregular octagon in plan – hits ground on to a surprisingly tight pedestrianised lane, Angel Court, cutting through a block in the midst of the tight warren of City streets. Fletcher Priest has angled the faceted base of the tower back, carving out a modest but relatively light-filled public space at its foot.

The floorplates spread out in a series of stepped blocks up to six storeys in height. In contrast to the smooth opalescent glazed surfaces of the tower, they are faced in rough-hewn Carlow Blue limestone. This creates layered deep-set gridded façades for the development on to two adjacent streets – Throgmorton and Copthall Streets – bedding it into the grain of the city, with restaurants and retail occupying them at ground-floor level.

These larger, lower ‘garden floors’ open out higher up on to roof terraces, and are topped at Level 7 on one side by a unexpectedly lush roof garden, with tall hedges framing nearby office towers, lawns including a croquet lawn, and white benches – slightly surreal in the context, and reminiscent of the roof garden at Le Corbusier’s Beistegui apartment in Paris. This level also contains a communal business lounge and café area for the whole building. Above this rises the smaller floorplate ‘sky floors’, each providing just over 800m² of space.

1239 N184

1239 N184

Source: Edmund Sumner

Further imaginative use of plants is picked up graphically in the first-floor reception areas, reached by escalators set in a 8.1m-high lobby area. A diorama-like slot of planting sits between its rear glazed wall and the adjacent wall, planted with ferns and other shade-loving species, in a vitrine-like container intended to recall the primaeval river swamp on which London was built.

The green theme is picked up less literally but more sustainably in the fritting of the glazing, which is solar-controlled, optimising useful daylight penetration while limiting solar gains, while the tower’s façades also incorporate fixed-frame brise-soleil shading. There is rain water and grey water harvesting and combined heat and power to generate on-site electricity and heating, installed in the basement. The structure itself reuses 60 per cent of the original 1970s core.

Architect’s statement

Our brief from the City of London to make the building as visually unobtrusive as possible brought a mix of challenges to this site in the Bank of England conservation area. We responded in a number of ways to make Angel Court a gentle presence within the tight-knit grain of the City’s streets, with careful material choices and enhanced public realm and landscaping being integral to the design.

We developed an unusual double frit on the tower’s glass façade – a ceramic dot baked on to the surface – which gives the tower a soft opacity by day and a translucent glow from within by night. We also wove a grid of Carlow Blue limestone around the podium, which anchors the base of the building to the ground and leads the eye up to the cloud-reflecting tower above.

Within the building, we created over 1,500m² of terraces and gardens on five levels, with a shared garden on level seven that provides a new heart to the building. Working with Vogt Landscape, we also created a living diorama behind the reception area with a canopy of trees that can be seen from the upper levels, bringing greenery through the building.

Our scheme has created 40 per cent more public realm, continuing an important initiative set in our other recent buildings in the City. We resolved the previous lack of public space by separating pedestrians and traffic and canting the tower down to ground, setting it back to create dramatic office entrances, and a new public street, animated by 1,400m² of retail. We worked with the Contemporary Art Society and the client to commission sculptural works by Sara Barker that mark both pedestrian entrances to the site. Both artworks reference the area’s rich historic context - as home to the Drapers Company and with its proximity to Threadneedle Street - through imagery relating to weaving and sewing. These interventions and additions have not only enhanced the building for its occupants, they have also helped to enrich nearby streets and increase footfall to the area.

We worked with the Contemporary Art Society and the client to commission sculptural works by Sara Barker which mark both pedestrian entrances to the site. Both artworks reference the area’s rich historic context – as home to the Drapers Company and with its proximity to Threadneedle Street – through imagery relating to weaving and sewing. These interventions and additions have not only enhanced the building for its occupants, they have helped enrich nearby streets and increase footfall to the area.

05 ac south elevation

05 ac south elevation

Project data

Start on site July 2013
Completion February 2017
Gross internal floor area 46,000m²
Gross (internal + external) floor area 51,000m²
Form of contract or procurement route Construction management
Construction cost Undisclosed
Architect Fletcher Priest Architects
Client Mitsui Fudosan with Stanhope 
Structural engineer Waterman Structures 
M&E consultant Waterman Building Services
Quantity surveyor Alinea Consulting
Landscape Vogt Landscape
Acoustics Waterman Energy, Environmental & Design
Project manager N/A
CDM coordinator PFB Construction Management Services Ltd
Approved building inspector MLM Building Control
Main contractor Mace Group
CAD software used Autodesk Revit, Autodesk AutoCAD, Rhino
Annual CO2 emissions 15.30 kgCO2/m²

  • 2 Comments

Readers' comments (2)

  • The tower reminds me of the most hated building in New York, the Pan Am building. Clunky, boxy, lifeless, unimaginative, cliched. Only interesting thing happening is at the base where some kind soul has tried to do something to break the corporate monotony.

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  • Not quite as bad as the Fryscraper but still pretty awful. How can the word 'ethereal' be applied to such a large and obvious glass monolith? At least it is 'anchored to the ground' - I find such statements really quite weird. I doubt anything would make it float over it.

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