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Offices designed to the planners' brief

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news in pictures

The strength of the London office market can be gauged from buildings like this: completed last year to designs by the Tooley Foster Partnership, the building in Conduit Street, in London's West End, has an asking rent of close to £40 per sq ft for its 28,000 sq ft (net) of office space. Developer Clerical & Medical was in no great hurry to let the scheme when it was finished last year; negotiations are now under way in respect of several floors and the ground-floor retail.

So what did they get for their money (construction cost was around £5.5 million)? A well-planned replacement for a utilitarian early 1950s building (net to gross ratio nearly 70 per cent in the new building), a selling point in the rooftop addition, with good views over the burgeoning commercial skyline, and an artistic flourish in a series of external wall lights by Hampshire sculptor Saraj Guha.

The materials are high-quality (stone, brick, lead), and the high standard of internal finishes is noticeable. The office space is free of intermediate columns, each open-plan floor serviced by four-pipe fan-coil air-conditioning, and raised floors.

This is an example of a good-quality speculative scheme whose form is largely the result of planning considerations: a respectful attitude towards Edwardian neighbours, and the odd feature typical of today's offices. One example is the disabled-access wc reached directly from the office floor rather than the lobby. One imagines that most tenants would replace this with a coffee galley . . .

Architect: Tooley & Foster Partnership

Structural engineer: R T James & PartnersBuilding services: Rybka Battle Main contractor: Try Construction

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