Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Environment: Habitation and Adaptation

New Street Square has created its own secluded environment. although there are no specific boundaries or things to stop the general public walking through, they don't. the narrow passageways, the tall buildings and the way you can slightly see, when you look down the passage, a square, make people think again before going in. there is on site security as well, which i was stopped and questioned by twice whilst taking photos and attempting to enter a building. all of the entrances to the buildings are open though and they have large open areas with reception desk and seating, so i was able to enter the buildings. Bennetts really have created a good functional working environment, there is a very open and sunny outside space, and it is nice to have the cafes and restaurant there as well. people i spoke to said that they enjoyed working there because it was like its own little community and was much nicer then just spending all your day in a single buildings, i think it helps that most of the people have been working there since the opening of the buildings.

The photo above is the view from the end of one of the passageways out into the surrounding area, this is looking up the street to Holborn Circus. this is a very busy road with cars and people but most people just go straight past the site as although it does have an interesting exterior it is mostly above eye level on the second/third floor upwards. the traditional square layout does encourage people to stay within the site for lunch/dinner and coffee, which will in turn help the site overall because the retail outlets will be kept busy and therefore hopefully not end up with empty outlets. having these food outlets also means that they site doesn't completely die after 5pm as people stay around for drinks, but at the weekend it is a lot quieter.

Light enters the site well and also penetrates into the buildings, through the glass walls. the buildings are arranged in height order from North to South to make the most out of all the available light. when it is raining people take completely different routes through the site, for example when its raining people will walk under cover along the edge of their own building and to the coffee shop at the end rather then having to get wet going to patisserie valerie on the opposite side to the door of the office which is closer but not under cover.

overall site information

New Street Square - Building Information

Architect: Bennetts Associates Architects
Developer: Land Securities plc
Contractor: Sir Robert McAlpine
Structural Engineer: Pell Frischmann 
Services Engineer: Cundall 
Landscape Designer: Whitelaw Turkington

New Street Square – Awards

RIBA Award
London Planning Awards - 'Best Built Project'
City Architecture Awards 2009 - overall winner
This square building is the Bennetts Associates designer. The unique well squared alignment compliments the New Street Square development, from shops to Cafes juxtaposing each other and adjacent office buildings keeping the structure simple.

Bennetts Associates is designer for this square building. A new public square forms the heart of Bennett Associates’ New Street Square development, with pedestrian routes radiating from each of its four corners. Caf├ęs and
 shops adjacent to office entrances animate the street scene. Although the tallest element in the scheme is 18 storeys, varying building heights ensure that maximum sunlight penetrates the square.

The main aspect to the design of the buildings where that it had senses of open space and clarity with an overwhelming element of nature at its best with growing green wall, opening to a public’s areas provided with great simple design as well as having, sculptures, lighting and artwork have been integrated of developments susses providing a common sense of rest, which is as clear at night as throughout the day.

The idea to generate a huddle of buildings and designs surrounding public space and to have a successful environmental blend in with the other buildings, would be a daring task in which in I believe with a systematic landscape theory and with usual City short Routes leading in and out of the city centre with the great open space that the building opens up to, has also allowed the architects to gain a larger scale of options of responding to different site and conditions and lighting effect  it might have to each other. Generally as a whole the growth of the designs success has provided a vast additional significance to its location and the history it flows to addition to the urban of London.

Through the south of Holborn circus you will witness the heart of this high-powered commercial region, with a positive look of square lining with cafes and restaurants, trees, shrubs, fern and grasses surround the five buildings cluster “green wall” around the main square. Over 64,000 square metres of office space is divided into flexible spaces on a human scale, creating new homes for businesses such as Deloitte, Speechly Bircham, Taylor Wessing and the Carbon Trust, among many others.

The palette of stone, glass and steel is softened by the inclusion of an attractive growing green wall, providing interest and character to the scheme. This urban regeneration project brings a new vitality to this area, as well as providing a new public space which has already had considerable local economic impact.
The whole engineer structure has a real transformation for this area, but in the same time keeps in line with its own history behind it. This idea reinstates old pedestrian routes, courts and alleys that once characterised the site, but tragically lost in the blitz. The main idea we want to establish is that there is a sense of urgency and excitement that is already coming outwards from New Street Square which this could greatly increase footfall for their retail and leisure customers.

As you can see this structure clearly attracts the modern day public, even with old feature it stills catapults the systematic view to extreme heights, you can also gather that the architect had a very high understanding of how everything was going to be built, needing deep concentration throughout.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Structure and Construction

Each of the 5 buildings in this square have an almost completely different structure. which makes the site very interesting and stops it from being just another office block in london. some consistency between the buildings would have been nice as the only thing they all have in common is that they have overhangs or covered areas where the front doors are. This covered area is reflective of the British weather and will allow people time to put up umbrellas or button up coats before going out in the rain. this covered area is also where everyone stands and smokes, which isn't very nice.
This is the covered area of Building 1, people use it to walk through undercover from the office doors to the cafe on the corner, although this office has its own canteen inside so many people stay in there all day. the cafe puts tables and chairs here as well which must be nice in the summer. the building has a metal structure over the whole outside of the building, wood and glass are also used. the buildings main foundations are then built up with very large steel girders.

Building 2 also has a covered area that a cafe uses for outside eating but concrete and stone make up a less complicated rectangular structure over the glass windows. the use of a grid and the fact the the floors are at the same height in all the buildings does make building one and two fit together well.

This is building 3, which is the smallest and lowest of all the buildings but it is also the most modern and futuristic looking. it is used as offices for the site management and security and also the access to the underground car park. the building uses steel, stainless steel and glass and also feature an overhang over the front door. the wall exposed to the outisde of the square, is a 'green' wall which has plants growing out of it. the rest of the walls are either glass or covered in sheets of stainless steel. there are no curves in any of the buildings and this is probably one of the reasons for the curved grass area in the centre of the square and the natural flowing water.

this is the view down between building 3 and 4. building 4 has an all glass exterior , and this is made by having an internal structure and then the glass basically hangs on the outside, then there is some exterior structure showing made of concrete on the upper floors. this building has one of the largest floor plans and, along with building 5, contrasts with buildings 1 and 2 well when you compare their structures.

This photo shows building 5 in the forefront and then building 4 in the background. This shows how these two buildings are quite similar apart from that building 4 has slight accents of structure on the outside. on the outside of the square these two buildings have very different looks, with large wooden and metal structure over the front of the smooth glass. the glass works well with the British weather as it is a very similar colour to the sky and the rain and when it does rain it cleans the self cleaning glass.

This is building 5 on the left and building 1 on the right. Building 5 is a completely glass sheet on the outside, for 17 storeys. the glass isn't part of the supporting weight at all as there is an internal structure of concrete and steel. the other side of this building, that you cannot see in this photo, is very structural and has an exterior very similar to building one apart from it uses more wood, or metal that looks like wood. And in contrast the walls on the outside of the square of buildings 1 and 2 are very smooth, made up of glass and small sections of steel and concrete structure.

This is the view, looking up between buildings 5 and 1, it looks like a complete exo-skelton and also shows the relationship between the two buildings, as well as the simplicity of straight lines. The buildings are all unique, but they also work well together in a square. all the buildings are built in the usual 'office block' way and with the most modern 'office block' materials, steel, glass, concrete etc. the surfaces used in the site bounce off of each other and create interesting relationships and very interesting textures in different weather and seasons.

Location and Introduction

New Street Square is an office block built in 2008 by Bennetts. The offices are split into 5 buildings, and are set around a traditional square. There is also cafes, resteraunts and shops in the ground floor of most of the office buildings. The map with the red lines shows the most used routes around the site, between 9 and 11am on a weekday. The site is located only about a 10 minute walk from the CSM building on Southampton Row.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010


The materials used in this site have had a lot of thought and time put into them. all of the materials work very well together, for example the bottom of the glass windows almost moving seamlessly into the stone floor. although this is one development by one architect all of the buildings have their own identities and different concepts have been used to bring all of the buildings together but still make them individual.

In the centre of the square there is a large piece of grass, it is on a raised bed with a concrete edge. the grass has an undulating shape that balances all the straight lines on the buildings. the grass is at a height that us easy to touch and its nicely cut form makes you want to touch it. Parallel to the grass is a water feature, it is also raised and rectangular and make you want to touch it. these two features have been put into the square so that it isn't just full or concrete, glass and stone, it also makes it more like a traditional square which is what the architect wanted, with trees, water and grass.

The buildings themsleves all have an individual look, which makes this development refreshing different from some of the normal modern office blocks where everything looks the same. one thing that is the same in all the buildings though is that all the floors are at the the same height, meaning that in the future a bridge coulg be built between two buildings to increase the floor plan. building one has a lot of glass and on the outside of the sqaure has a very large wooden or copper frame work over it. There is also a very interesting 'green' wall on the small management building, this acts as a habitat which is rare to find in central London, and i expect it is very popular with small creatures in the area. this 'green' wall as well as the grass, water feature and trees, make this a very green area. the grid or frame work of metal over the front of one of the buildings is quite contrasting to the thick blocks of concrete on the adjacent building, but they balance each other. the thin pieces of metal on the building provides interesting shadows and protection from the glare of the sun and the building with the concrete also provides a more shaded working environment although still flooding the interior with light. the whole square is a very reflective area, with all the glass and shiny surfaces when they are wet. the surrounding older buildings are also reflected in these new materials giving an interesting relationship between the old and the new.

The smooth glass finish on this building, which is built in the traditional sky scraper way, contrast with the more contemporary and 'unfinished' looking building that sits adjacent to it. the end of the frame work building faces the front of the smooth glass building, which is an interesting relationship between materials. the space that these two buildings create between each other is interesting because it has a suspended roof, which means you cannot determine the height of either building if you approach the square from this side, and it is only when you stand in the centre of the square that you become aware of the height. the colours used in the materials, surprisingly blend well into the British sky of greys.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010


New Street Square was built for Land Agencies, by architects Bennetts Associates, originally there was a plan for a large single building on the is site but the growing sustainability issues and the ongoing quest for the best working environments lead the developer to seek a new architect and design. This significant development is in the ‘mid-town’ area of the City and is between the Fleet Street and High Holborn, when I first visited the site, I took a back road of Chancery Lane, and came across the square quite by surprise as the striking new architecture towered 18 floors above me. The height of the buildings I was completely unaware of initially as the ground floor of the buildings are mostly shops, eateries and restaurants, so they grab your attention and stop you from looking up at the tower block. The site is made up to 4 tower blocks of varying heights and a much smaller building, with an interesting ‘green wall’, more about that to follow, that surround a traditional square.

The square is accessed by quite narrow, the smallest being 6 metres, passages between the buildings, one covered, and it is interesting the routes that people take through the square on the way from the office to buy lunch or a coffee or on their way home. This study of people’s paths through the site will be published here shortly. The square is a very nice place to be and although surrounded by buildings, does not feel claustrophobic at any time, there are places to sit, a water feature, grass and 3 trees. The tallest building is to the North and the smallest to the South, giving maximum sunlight penetration to the square. A very important feature of the office space is that all the floors on all the buildings are at the same height, so a larger company perhaps moving into the building can have a passageway connecting the floors of two buildings, making this a very flexible working environment.

When visiting the new street square Building my opening reaction was the attention of the varied materials they had taken forward to the design. This was achieved by a yet historical and blending in environment of the surroundings that the building was targeted towards and most important it delivered a simplistic aspect of design in the future which they discovered within the spaces and circulations of the public and designs they had to overcome to match this solution.

Nevertheless the companies based on the buildings have great senses of beneficial use for the public and workers as the city centre runs through the spaces providing shops and public open spaces that desire to maximise sunlight within, as the architects have approached a varying heights of blocks and general designs, so sunlight can enter the spaces in a specific way through the day giving sunlight to other buildings around it and yet creating a busy and energetic destination for the public and workers that circulate within the spaces.