ACME has submitted plans for a huge 44,500m² mixed-use scheme on the site of Foreign Office Architects’ (FOA) abandoned Trinity.EC3 project in Aldgate, central London
The so-called Minories Redevelopment includes a 20,000m² office building, a 370-room Hampton by Hilton Hotel and an 8,000m² apartment block and is backed by the 4C Hotels Group, headed by investor Bashir Nathoo.
The company snapped up the plot last year from developer Beetham who had managed to win planning for the crystalline FOA scheme back in 2008 (AJ 07.01.08).
Bounded by Aldgate High Street to the north, Minories on the west, Little Somerset Street and the Guinness Trust Estate towards the east, the site is currently occupied by a number of vacant late 1970s office buildings including 15 Minories designed by Trehearne and Norman, Preston and Partners. ,.
ACME was set up in 2007 by former senior staff from FOA.
The architect’s view
‘The site’s strategic location, on Aldgate High Street positions the new office building at a central urban location, and provides the opportunity for the building to play a role in the life and image of the city. The building’s massing was developed to maximise its size while respecting constraints such as the Tower of London view corridor and distance to the site boundary. The building is one large volume, made permeable at ground floor level by the arcade on the long western and southern façades and by the set back at historic Harrow Alley on the East allowing for better pedestrian flow. The building volume is further broken up by two large scale terraces and by the textured façade which helps to dissolve the large elevation surfaces.
‘The main access to the building is through a generous double height entrance lobby on Aldgate High Street. The building is partially located above underground lines, which limit the areas for possible foundations to an absolute minimum. Two potential column locations were agreed with LUL, and an efficient concrete vaulting system was designed accordingly to transition the building load into these two support points. The exposed vault structure forms the walls and ceiling of the entrance hall, where the red pigmented concrete surface provide a unique lobby backdrop.
‘The façade consists of a curtain wall and two layers of fins that help unify and animate the large surfaces of the façade. The fins give a resonant and dynamic appearance to the office massing and also perform as a shading device. The depth of the fins varies depending on the orientation in order to enhance their performance.
‘Hotel options were tested to ensure that the hotel had sufficient capacity for known operator demand, and created a new urban form that defined public spaces towards the City. The building with its extension also creates an efficient boundary between residential and commercial neighbourhoods.
‘The current structural façade raises concerns as it lacks insulation and windows can only be replaced internally. The fins are structural and must be retained in place. It is proposed to replace all glazing and spandrel panels, and to overclad the structural concrete fins with metal fins that retain the verticality of the building and add subtle variation and play to the current regimented fins.’
‘Residential options were tested for viability, daylight impact and visibility to create a development of sufficient size to support the creation of a significant new green park for managed public use. Instead of opting for large vertical surfaces, the building expresses it’s residential scale with smaller volumes that reflect the spatial layout of the flats. This fragmented geometry contributes to the buildings appearance as smaller than it’s volume would suggest, and allows it to subtly shift forwards and backwards to optimise daylight.
‘In order to address privacy issues created by the expansive use of glass, external metal mesh curtains have been integrated in the façade to give each user an individual and integrated element to control exposure and transparency for each room.
‘The ambition of the scheme is to provide an architectural proposal that resolves the specific complexities and contradictions of this key site. The highly fragmented yet largely inaccessible site will be made more permeable by creating a series of public spaces. The architecture of the scheme will act as a marker on an urban scale, while taking full account of the sensitivity of the site in relation to townscape and strategic views.’
Access consultant: David Bonnett Associates
Fire safety: JGA
Landscape architect: Gillespies
Planning consultant: Gerald Eve LLP
Public consultation: Fourcommunications
Quantity surveyor: alinea
Services engineer: BSE3d
Structural engineer: AKT II
Townscape consultant: Peter Stewart Consultancy
Traffic engineer: SKM
Previous story (AJ 07.01.08)
FOA wins green light for huge City of London scheme
Foreign Office Architects (FOA) has won the go-ahead from planners for its mixed-use Trinity.EC3 scheme in the heart of the City of London.
The huddle of three crystal-like buildings, ranging in height from 12 to 22 storeys, is for developer Beetham.
The mixed-use scheme – which is scheduled for completion in 2014 – will also feature a public roof garden, an all-weather public plaza and a new community centre for the City of London’s Mansell Street Estate.