Friars Bridge Court will be a major new 21 storey office led development at the northern end of Blackfriars Road in Southwark. The building will replace an existing office building dating from 1991 to create an environment that envisions new ways of working, and is defined by generous amenity spaces including a gallery and two large roof terraces with sweeping views across London and The Thames. Whilst the southern half of Blackfriars Road is characterised by buildings of fairly uniform height, the northern half has a more varied street wall, culminating in a series of object towers towards its northern terminus. Our building sits between these two conditions, and is designed to strengthen the end of the block in which its sits and announce through its scale the transition to the more singular buildings towards the river.
Close to the site lies the Roupell Street Conservation Area comprising early 19th century workers’ housing, and which has survived relatively intact. Similarly close lies the Waterloo Conservation Area, a group of 19th and 20th century residential, commercial, institutional and industrial buildings and structures.
A recent influx of telecoms, media and tech (TMT) tenants in the area demands flexible floorplates suitable for both single and multiple tenancies. Increasingly, buildings from the 1980s and early 1990s like the one which this project will replace, do not offer this flexibility, or the floor to floor heights desired by modern tenants. Equally, such buildings often lacked active frontages and do not contribute to a successful public realm at ground level. How to enliven the ground plane in a primarily office based development? How to relate to the nearby conservation areas of Roupell Street and Waterloo to create a place-specific building?
Kennedy Wilson Europe
Commercial Offices, Retail
18,300sqm Commercial Offices
The building negotiates its context through the introduction of a number of transitional forms which mediate between the the lower buildings to the south, and the emerging cluster to the north on the Thames. The first, situated between the lower brick-clad volume and the upper stone-clad volume, is the ‘gallery space’ – a window into the inner life of the building. Its position reconciles and strengthens a number of local datum lines on the facades of the buildings neighbours.
The double height lobby acknowledges the potential for intensity and urbanity of Blackfriars Road, creating a visually permeable ground floor. To the north, another transitional volume, provides a formal ligament between the principal form of the proposal and its neighbour – mitigating in height between the two buildings.
The principal reading of this scheme is established through its masonry envelope. The lower portion of the building is clad in a denser grain façade expressed through a light coloured brick that reflects the colouration of the Georgian brick along Roupell Street and anchors the scheme within its immediate context. Above, a light sandstone coloured mineral finished grid establishes an understated calm and rational box in the sky, establishing a restrained counterpoint to the picturesque gables within the conservation area.