Thursday, 22 September 2016

Farringdon Fleet

Benedetti Architects proposal to repair the urban fabric by spanning the railway cutting to create a large new public space linked to Clerkenwell Green, with newly animated street frontages, 24-hour galleria and mixed-use development that re-establishes the physical and historical connections of the area.


Retail galleria on route of the historic River Fleet with new landmark office building and apartments. The new public space piazza also re-establishes the rightful prominence of the grade II listed Old Sessions House.



Benedetti Architects Projects website

Friday, 19 August 2016

Clerkenwell bucks the central London price dip

If nothing else, Clerkenwell in the 16th century would have been a good place for a stag do. Just north of the London Wall — and thus outside the jurisdiction of the puritanical City fathers — Clerkenwell’s Turnmill Street (sometimes “Turnbull”) was a crowded strip of boozing dens, bowling alleys, dice houses and brothels. Falstaff name-checks the road in Henry IV Part II, so Shakespeare must have been there (for research purposes, of course), and it is not hard to see why. “The most disreputable street in London,” is how Edward Sugden described it in his Topographical Dictionary of 1845, “a haunt of thieves and loose women”.

These days, those loose women would likely be priced out — a smart two-bedroom flat on Turnmill Street could cost you upwards of £1,300 per sq ft.

But Clerkenwell’s raffish reputation is central to its appeal, say local agents. And reputation seems to go a long way. With house prices plummeting in prime central London, Clerkenwell might just be the safest bet in the capital — or so says Raul Cimesa of Knight Frank.

According to their research, prices in Mayfair, Chelsea, Belgravia and Kensington are down. In Knightsbridge prices fell almost 8 per cent in the 12 months to July. Yet two districts have bucked the trend: Islington and the City Fringe. They have the highest price growth in central London at 4.3 per cent and 5.3 per cent respectively. And Clerkenwell straddles both. One reason it has been outperforming is that — plush flats aside — it is relatively affordable. According to Zoopla, in Clerkenwell’s EC1 postcode, price per sq ft is £681; in the City of London’s EC2 (which covers Moorgate and Liverpool Street) it’s more than double, at £1,382 per sq ft. Even for prime properties, you’re looking at a big reduction, says Cimesa.

Another reason is the wealth of good stock. While a lot of slightly dated council blocks went up in the 1950s and 1960s, many of the 19th-century factories have now been converted into loft-style homes, which attract creative professionals. The indecorous alehouses are long-gone too, replaced by a modish restaurant scene that is constantly evolving. Among the first was St John, a former smokehouse where nose-to-tail eating chef Fergus Henderson put offal back on the menu in 1994. These days, you only need to see the queues outside Morito on Exmouth Market, the smaller sister restaurant to the much-cherished Moro (next door), as proof of the area’s popularity. But it’s not just foodies. According to John Watson, director of City Planning at Savills, Clerkenwell is in the middle of a cycle of gentrification. “The artists move in,” he says, “then the architects, then the money.” Clerkenwell, he says, is in “architects phase”.

The number of architects buying in the area is unsurprising when you look at Clerkenwell’s commercial tenants. Herzog & de Meuron, Zaha Hadid, BDP and Grimshaw Architects all have practices there. “Every architect I meet tells me they now have an office in Clerkenwell,” says Dara Huang, of Design Haus Liberty, who has moved to 82 Clerkenwell Road. Office rents have risen from £30 to £50 per sq ft in the past five years, according to data from CoStar.

You might be able to spot the proliferation of architects in EC1 from the properties on the market. They’ve been tinkered with. Hamptons International is selling a modernised six-bedroom terrace house on Britton Street with a sleek subterranean pool for £8m.

On Myddelton Square, Knight Frank is selling a six-bedroom home at £6.5m with a ground-floor conversion that uses the old Georgian exterior wall as the new interior wall of the dining room. It’s stylishly done and won the “Regeneration” prize at the 2014 International Design and Architectural Awards.

Too much change can be a bad thing, though. Residents are keen to protect Clerkenwell’s character; when plans were proposed for the development of the Royal Mail’s former sorting office at Mount Pleasant, locals demanded the $1bn scheme be more traditional and provide more affordable housing. Then London Mayor Boris Johnson was quick to brand protesters “bourgeois Nimbys,” but many think their response is justified. After all, Clerkenwell’s historic charm has kept its market buoyant.

How long will it last? According to Zoopla, over the past three months prices have come down about 1 per cent in Clerkenwell; and in the month following the Brexit vote, a four-bedroom conversion near St John Street had its price cut by more than 15 per cent to £5.5m.

But there might yet be good news for homeowners. In March the CBRE predicted that properties near new Crossrail stations — one will be at Farringdon — could attract an average yearly premium of 3.3 per cent above local market growth until 2018, when the Elizabeth Line is operational. “A lot of the impact from Crossrail has already happened,” says Cimesa. “Whether architects or bankers invest [in Clerkenwell], there’ll be demand in this attractive area.”

Buying guide

● The City of London’s Cultural Hub will be centered around the Barbican complex and will involve the development of new cultural venues, schools and educational programmes over the next 10-15 years.

● The Crossrail station at Farringdon will open in December 2018. Its east-west line will cut journey times to Canary Wharf to 8 minutes and Bond Street to 4 minutes.

● In July the monthly crime rate for Clerkenwell was 16-19 crimes per 1,000 residents, higher than the neighbouring King’s Cross ward, but much lower than 29.1 rate in Holborn (content.metpolice.uk)

Friday, 22 July 2016

20 Farringdon road gets a face lift

Having recently acquired the leasehold, Derwent London are providing a much needed face lift to 20 Farringdon road with an ingenious colour scheme and design pattern.  The new owners' track record at delivering best in class redevelopments and refurbishments of office space will attract high quality tenants in a continuing trend for the area as rents in proximity to Farringdon's Crossrail station due for 2018 continue to sky rocket.

New look for 20 Farringdon road

Entrance at the corner of Cowcross Street

Holding a prominent position in the bustling heart of Farringdon, situated adjacent to the Farringdon Crossrail site and minutes away from Farringdon rail and tube station. The area is set to become a hub for cross London travel with 20 Farringdon Road at the centre.

New entrance along Farringdon road

A transformed exterior with two new entrances. A contemporary finish, making the most out of such a prominent position with a bold, modern fa├žade. Final building will feature exterior signage to help identify both entrances. Two roof terraces (one public one private) have been created to make the most of the buildings height and position, with views of St Paul’s and beyond.

The communal roof terrace
Derwent London have a website detailing the refurbishment at 20 Farringdon road.


Friday, 15 July 2016

Hatton Garden BID given green light

The businesses of Hatton Garden have voted overwhelmingly in favour of establishing a Business Improvement District (BID) to deliver ambitious improvements across the area in the coming years.

A dedicated website for the Hatton Garden BID has been launched with a detailed proposal

79% of businesses voted ‘yes’ at the ballot (83% by rateable value) firmly endorsing the £2.5 million investment plan set out earlier this year by the Hatton Garden BID team.

The BID will go ‘live’ in October of this year with the aim of seeing Hatton Garden grow as a world-renowned business and visitor destination. The BID team will work with partners to enhance the area’s iconic status as London’s famous jewellery quarter and develop the experience of working, living, doing business and visiting the area.



Gary Williams, Chairman of the Hatton Garden BID, comments: “This is a fantastic result for the whole business community here in Hatton Garden. Clearly the businesses recognised the huge opportunity before them and have grasped it whole-heartedly. I am looking forward to bringing the business plan to life, injecting the £2.5 million investment in the coming years and delivering the benefits to businesses across the area.”



The Hatton Garden BID will focus on four priority themes and projects and services will be delivered across these areas, they are:

  • Better business connections and representation for the business community
  • High quality public realm
  • Area promotion and profile raising
  • Enhanced environment

An area wide Public Realm Strategy, new street furniture such as planters, seating and lighting, improved signage and air quality initiatives are just some of the projects that will improve the look and feel of the Hatton Garden area.

Networking opportunities, mentoring and training programmes and projects to showcase the creativity and skills within Hatton Garden will support businesses, protect the jewellery sector and position the area as a creative hub. Joint procurement programmes will save money for businesses in the area.

An important area of focus for the BID will be on giving the business community a voice on crucial issues such as Crossrail, which will have a significant impact on Hatton Garden when services start in 2018. Additionally, a high profile PR campaign, marketing materials and cultural events and projects to add to the character and vibrancy of the area are included in the Business Plan.

In the coming months, the Hatton Garden team will finalise a BID board which will be representative of the business sector mix in the area, appoint an executive team and develop the work programme for the first term of the BID, which runs for 4.5 years.

Chief operating officer of the London Diamond Bourse, Victoria McKay, adds: “I backed the Hatton Garden BID because significant, targeted and sustained investment will collectively benefit all the businesses in the local area over the next 4.5 years.”



The BID will be funded by a small levy on business rates (1%) and voluntary contributions will also be sought from property owners.

Sunday, 10 July 2016

New flagship Gymbox in London's midtown

Holborn to be home to new flagship gym for Gymbox

Gymbox is to open a new flagship gym at 120 Holborn in London’s Midtown, which will become one of central London’s largest.  The trendy group, which promises customers “fitness insanity”, has taken a 38,000 sq ft facility in the basement of the newly refurbished building.  A new entrance is being created on Leather Lane to access the basement gym.

It is likely GymBox Farringdon members will be transferred to the new gym when it gets refitted as a bootcamp style gym named MOB45.

Rebranding of GYMBOX Farringdon to MOB45

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Museum of London design shortlist: from luxury boutique to history chic

Smithfield market will be the museum’s new home, but which architectural vision should shape its future: the eye-catching one, the ghostly one, the corporate one … or the one that rings alarm bells?



Marooned on a grim roundabout in the City of London since the 1970s, cloistered away behind forbidding grey walls, the Museum of London is finally making a bid for freedom. Six shortlisted designs have been unveiled for its new home in Smithfield, where it hopes to breathe much needed life into three derelict Victorian market buildings to the west of the thriving meat market, with a project set to open by 2021.

Developers and conservationists have long waged war over the future of the 25,000 square metre site, which includes the majestic iron-framed hall of the general market, along with the former Fish Market and a cold store known as the Red House – as well as a working underground rail line that the museum hopes to incorporate into its plans.
The buildings were saved from evisceration by a bloated commercial development in 2014. The challenge is now how to insert a museum that boasts the largest urban history collection in the world (and wants to double its visitors to 2m a year) without destroying the magic of the place.
Little detail has been revealed about the shortlisted schemes, which will go on public exhibition from 10 June to 5 August with a winner chosen by an expert panel later this summer. Take a look at the entries below.

‘Victorian meets modern’ – Bjarke Ingels Group




Featuring a three-storey apse-like vitrine cantilevered out over the street, BIG’s design trumpets the new museum in one of the more effusive entries of the bunch – as expected from the young Danish architect who specialises in poppy, eye-catching gestures (and who has just unveiled this year’s Serpentine pavilion). The vertical shop window provides a bold entrance beacon for an interior that promises to amplify the existing “architectural cross-section of the city: Victorian meets modern, brick meets cast-iron, slate meets glass.” Interesting to see how they might juggle the tension between their cartoonish tendencies and the “nooks and crannies, raw beauty and quirky charm” of the site.

‘An opportunity to open up’ – Caruso St John




The hardest of the projects to decode from the information provided, Caruso St John say they have “looked critically at the existing historic building fabric and proposed preserving the best parts and transforming others.” Rendered with an intentional vagueness, the scheme seems to comprise the insertion of discrete pavilions within the space of the market hall, in the architects’ trademark pastel palette. It would no doubt be clean, polite and well-tailored, but might it all feel a bit insipid and at odds with the messy, earthy character of the place?

‘A rich visitor experience’ – Diener & Diener




Crowned with a ghostly wireframe reconstruction of the cupola that once towered above the corner of the General Market, the Swiss architects’ entry is one of the more poetic, although it’s quite tricky to tell what they’re planning to do beyond this rooftop apparition. The ground floor appears to have been stripped back and whitewashed in a way that makes it look a bit like a luxury fashion boutique, while the permanent and temporary exhibitions seem destined to inhabit the array of subterranean spaces, “bringing the collection and the physicality of these spaces together in a rich visitor experience”. Intriguing, but could it end up being a bit beige?

‘A delicate adaptation, not an act of force’ – Lacaton & Vassal




Claiming to take inspiration from Cedric Price’s Fun Palace, incorporating mobile partitions and retractable seating, the French architects Lacaton & Vassal’s proposal appears to be the most light-handed of the lot – no bad thing in such a rich context. Lacaton & Vassal are masters of subtle intervention, as they have demonstrated in their deft archaeological approach to the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, peeling back the layers of the building’s history with dazzling beauty. As the architects put it: “It is not an act of force but a delicate adaptation to make the most of what already exists.” Promising to amplify the character of the jumbled complex with a series of surgical interventions, it is the most promising of the six schemes.

‘A democratic meeting place’ – Stanton Williams




Stanton Williams propose to make the most of the existing building’s majestic domed roof, carving out a sweeping spiral staircase beneath it to draw visitors down into the lower levels. Their scheme claims to be an “antimuseum”, with openings to the street on all sides rather than a single front door, to create “an arena for public life, performance, installation, debate, with places for rest and reflection”. Emphatically modern additions are designed to contrast with the historic fabric, in a similar manner to the practice’s conversion of the Kings Cross granary building into Central Saint Martins art college. But, just like Saint Martins, it looks as if it might end up feeling a little too corporate.

‘A treasure trove of objects’ – Studio Milou




Alarm bells might sound when you hear of Studio Milou’s plans for a “new showcase building” that will “envelop” two of the existing Victorian structures. Intended to create a landmark entrance, the new building will incorporate a giant mirror to reflect the facade of the Red House cold store, while a “crown of glass showcases” will present the collection as an accumulation of stories and experiences, “a treasure trove of objects flowing from the city’s earliest history to its present”. The most heavy-handed of the shortlisted schemes, the images also feature that tired trope of a stepped wooden seating tribune, an interior with all the character of a departure lounge.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Revealing the Charterhouse

Thanks to a £1.5 million lottery grant the Charterhouse will be open to the public for the first time in its 660 year history, revealing to the public the great story of this sprawling urban oasis at the heart of London.

The 14th-century complex in Clerkenwell, built on a plague pit, has been a religious site, a Tudor mansion, a school and, for the last 400 years, almshouses. It has hosted monarchs and survived serious damage in the Blitz.
The Master's court
In partnership with the Museum of London, the site will be opened up to visitors who will in turn discover a dramatic story. There are three key elements to the project:
  • A new museum which will tell the story of the Charterhouse from the Black Death to the present day.
  • A Learning Room and Learning Programme so that school groups can discover how the Charterhouse has been home to everyone from monks and monarchs to schoolboys and Brothers.
  • A newly-landscaped Charterhouse Square which will be open to the public so that more people can enjoy the beautiful green surroundings.
Eric Parry Architects are designing the new public entrance to Charterhouse along with the learning room. 
Visitors Centre
Learning room
Charterhouse Square itself is being reconfigured by garden designer Todd Longstaffe-Gowan, inspired by its 18th century layout and returned to the public.

Opening the private square to the public
The new layout configuration of charterhouse square
The Charterhouse continues as a charity and almshouse for 40 ‘Brothers’ who live there.