Set on a tightly constrained corner site within a prescribed envelope, the building is a slender tower of 23 storeys. The accommodation is arranged as a mixture of studio, one, and two-bedroom apartments, with generous ground and first floor public areas overlooking the new Aldgate Place. The scheme also includes public realm, which can be enjoyed by Leman Locke tenants.
The design expression is elegant and restrained, comprising a symmetrical building cloaked in two delicately curved longer facades – suggestive of white ceramic ‘shields’. The building is shrouded in glass, with the gridded arrangement of the floors and windows behind the glazing. The glass offers a high level of diffused transparency, responding to the architectural language of the City of London, while acting as a ‘veil’ to soften the rhythmic grid behind.
Frits – ceramic patterns – are embedded in the façade glazing, with the design intent to create a clean and rational appearance which reads as one unified whole. The frit pattern is used to orchestrate varying levels of privacy into the building and was rigorously tested to understand how it would affect both the building’s technical performance and appearance. A careful balance needed to be struck in the frit pattern – too dense and it would be uncomfortable to look at, too sparse and it wouldn’t be sufficient to ensure the privacy levels required.
There are also solid areas of the building (such as the area to the back) where the glazing and frit pattern was required to run in front of solid walls, rather than apartments. Clever design was required to overcome this significant design challenge, as left unchecked these solid sections could interrupt the elegant glass ‘veil’ and the harmony of the building’s appearance. An innovative metal grid was introduced for these solid areas of the structure, which sits behind the glazing to create the illusion of depth and reflective light. The result is a building which appears to be entirely a structure entirely composed of glass, when in reality almost half of the building’s panels conceal solid walls.
Alongside the careful arrangement of the frit panels, the glazing was purposely selected for its highly reflective characteristics and ability to allow increased levels of light into the apartments, as well for its subtle grey tint which creates a diffused appearance.
The frames of the window panels are silicone – and slim and elegant in profile. Arranged in a gridded format, the pattern softens the glazed façade, preventing either an overtly dominant vertical or horizontal lined appearance interrupting the tower’s unified form. The resulting effect is a playful but refined expression whereby the tower appears as solid glass.
The principles of the interior concept were developed around an ‘open studio’ arrangement – the bedrooms are to the back of the apartments, so on arrival into the living space residents are greeted by spectacular city views. Flashes of vibrant ‘millennial pink’ also feature in the apartments.
In the public areas, a feature helical staircase sweeps up from the ground floor to the first floor café and restaurant, enhancing the experience of the spaces.
Since opening, the serviced apartments have enjoyed a 90% occupancy rate and the scheme was nominated for the AHEAD Awards in the ‘Urban Hotel – New build’ and ‘Guestrooms’ categories.
The scheme is a flagship building for the new brand – announcing this new developer to the market and their fresh, bold approach.
Aldgate, London E1
Best Guestroom - Shortlist
Best Urban Hotel (new build) - Shortlist
Irish Construction Awards 2017 - International Project of the Year