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FIRST LOOK

SOM completes 42-storey Manhattan Loft Gardens in London’s Stratford

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The 143m tower combines rental apartments, a five-star hotel, two restaurants and cedar-lined sky gardens

The tower is the latest project to be developed by Harry Handelsman’s Manhattan Loft Corporation in east London, following Adjaye Associates’ Hackney Walk which completed in 2016. It contains 248 apartments, with a mixture of 1.5 storey loft-style and single-storey apartments, spread over 35 floors. These sit above a six-storey hotel, aptly named The Stratford, with a restaurant, Allegra occupying the seventh floor – together forming the podium block to the tower above.

The tower’s distinctive profile – notoriously visible behind St Paul’s when viewed from Richmond Park (be it with a telephoto lens) – has three-storey ‘notches’ cutting completely through the building at levels seven through to 10 and 25 through to 28. Each forms triple-height cedar-lined sky gardens, with a third roof garden above at level 36.

12. manhattan loft gardens residential interior ©rory gardiner courtesy mlc

These ‘subtracted’ spaces, as architect Kent Jackson who led the project for SOM describes them, require the elimination of half of the perimeter columns and were enabled by a perimeter steel and post-tensioned concrete hybrid cantilever transfer structure developed by the architect, which is incorporated into the floors above. The apartments on each of these transfer floors have the storey-high trusses expressed internally as part of their living spaces.

The building’s façade is composed of serrated glass and russet-coloured glassfibre reinforced concrete (GRC), giving it a rippled dynamism when approached at different angles. The zig-zag serrations also act as brises-soleil, cutting solar radiation by seven per cent, while incorporating Juliet balconies which randomly punctuate the façade.

The apartments offer a flexible rental model: fully furnished and rentable from a week upwards, sharing amenities with the hotel, such as concierge service, members’ club and a programme of cultural events. At ground floor, a triple-height entrance lobby is shared by hotel guests, restaurant goers and apartment residents, with the idea of contributing to forming a ’vertical community’. 

8. manhattan loft gardens sky garden ©luke hayes courtesy mlc

Architect’s view

Working as an integrated group of architects and engineers, the design team shaped the tower’s innovative steel and concrete form to create impressive communal spaces that would provide a natural platform for interaction, while working from the inside-out to maximise views and natural light.

As a result, the building has an unusual tower structure in which the majority of the floors are supported by a cantilevered post-tensioned concrete and steel-framed perimeter truss system at level 10 and 28.

This approach permitted the removal of half the columns below the transfer floors. This uniquely engineered design allowed the incorporation of the sky gardens, and the occupants of these levels will literally ‘live’ within the structure.

Kent Jackson, design partner, SOM

1. manhattan loft gardens ground floor plan

Project data

Start on site 2014
Completion The Stratford Lofts: May 2019; The Stratford (hotel): May 2019; Allegra (restaurant): May 2019
Gross internal floor area 14,000m² (hotel); 26,000m² (residences)
Gross (internal + external) floor area 39,299m²
Form of contract or procurement route Design & Build
Construction cost Undisclosed
Architect Skidmore Owings & Merrill 
Client Manhattan Loft Corporation
Structural engineer Skidmore Owings & Merrill
M&E consultant Hoare Lea
QS DBK Partners
Infrastructure consultant Arup
Access consultant David Bonnett Associates
Sustainability consultant Greengage
Transport consultant WSP
Lighting consultant Paul Nulty Lighting Design
Façade consultant WSP
Landscape consultant Randle Siddeley & Martha Schwarts
Acoustic consultant Sandy Brown
Project manager Core5
CDM coordinator Bureau Veritas
Approved building inspector Bureau Veritas
Main contractor Bouygues UK ISG
CAD software used Revit
Annual CO2 emissions Overall target emission rate (TER) 40.62kg/m²; Overall dwelling emission rate (DER) 17.25kg/m²; Improvement between TER/DER 42% 

4. manhattan loft gardens section

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