Planner are set to approve Eric Parry Architects’ proposed redevelopment of Seal House in the City of London – a replacement for a never-built scheme by David Chipperfield Architects
The £40 million proposal for the site next to Grade II*-listed Fishmongers’ Hall is set to be considered by the City of London’s planning committee next Monday (18 March).
However, planners have recommended the green light for the demolition of the existing riverside building, designed by William Holford & Partners in 1978, and creation of a new 19,658m² office and retail block.
Developer Sellar Property Group had previously won the go-ahead, a decade ago, for an 18,000m² scheme drawn up by David Chipperfield Architects.
According to Eric Parry, the new 12-storey design will open up the Thamesside elevation to a ‘public restaurant space and outdoor dining’ rather than the office space in the previous consented scheme.
Seal House will also include a terrace and landscaped garden on the 12th floor, accessed from a ground floor public entrance off Riverside Walk, and similar to Parry’s roof garden at Fen Court on the northern side of the Thames.
A report by City of London planners said the free-to-access roof garden would offer ‘one of the most exceptional views in London’, with 360-degree views of key London landmarks including St Paul’s Cathedral and the Monument.
While the scheme would obscure a ’small narrow extent of river’ in views from the Monument viewing gallery, planners said this was outweighed by the scheme’s ‘significant wider and inclusive public benefits’.
Chipperfield seal house left parry right
Architect’s view – taken from the design and access statement
The proposal has been developed to present a singular architectural form both to the Thames and Upper Thames Street. A series of distinctive and simple building forms is historically reminiscent of waterfront buildings along the Thames.
A number of the buildings to the west of the site have a strong horizontal emphasis. By contrast, our proposal is ‘portrait’ in nature and mediates between the horizontality to the west and the verticality of the portico of the Fishmongers’ Hall. It can be seen framing London Bridge and the hall along with Adelaide House on the north bank of the Thames.
The proposal’s vertical nature is emphasised by the trabeated framework of beams and columns which form the southern and eastern elevations. These will be structural elements with the vertical piers being a series of load-bearing granite columns which allow the glazed elevation to read in a recessive manner behind the structural screen.
The maritime nature of the setting is emphasised by a series of large steel columns
The use of granite harks back to the lower levels of the Fishmongers’ Hall and Rennie’s London Bridge, portions of which survive at both ends. The northern and western facades will, by contrast, be more taut and slender, though using the same palette of materials.
The maritime nature of the setting is emphasised by a series of large steel columns which support the primary office levels and are reminiscent of the structures of waterfront warehouses. These act to form colonnades to the south, east and north, and provide greater spatial generosity to the ground plane.
The building rises up to the ninth floor before setting back to provide terraces to the north and the south. The structural stone piers rise an extra storey along the river to provide a more vertical emphasis to the facade.
Seal house site