This site is next to the Wesley's Chapel, one of the most important heritage assets in the London Borough of Islington. It is also within the Bunhill Fields and Finsbury Square Conservation Area. As such the pre planning process required extensive consultation with the Local Authority and English Heritage. The design challenge throughout was to develop a fresh and contemporary building, which would also respect and work well within this delicate heritage context.
The new scheme was envisaged as unashamedly contemporary but also a ‘quiet’ intervention, that steps back in order to enhance the neighbouring heritage buildings. A black brick elevation was proposed, to provide a strong contrast which also recedes, allowing the heritage buildings to come to the forefront . A dialogue between old and new was maintained through the use of brick, while the language of the Conservation Area is echoed through the new building’s scale, proportion of windows, and rhythm, while also having a distinct identity of its own.
The new building is also a transitional scheme, mediating between the scale of larger office buildings to one side and the Wesley Chapel on the other, with part of the building matching the height of the chapel’s parapet.
Deep white window details and reveals contrast with the dark brick, while the material cladding the roof extension is white back painted glass – a softer alternative to the grey metal industrial finish found on neighbouring commercial office buildings.
The Oliver House site was particularly challenging in design terms, given the very sensitive historic context. We were impressed with Aros’ dedication to design quality. Their passion for a bold approach, which integrated a highly contemporary new building in this setting, was very convincing. Not only to us but to the local authority and English Heritage too.Simon Scott, SACO Ltd