Principal Tower is the landmark apartment tower within Principal Place, a new mixed-use development on the edge of the City of London in the borough of Hackney – at 175 metres, it will be one of London’s tallest residential buildings. The relationship between the creative, formerly industrial east end and Britain’s financial centre is expressed in the tower’s massing, which appears as three slim volumes. Where the tower addresses the residential neighbourhood of Shoreditch, it appears lower from ground level, while from the west it reflects the high-rise nature of the City. A central volume rises up between the two to provide an elegant marker on the skyline.
The 50-storey building offers a variety of apartment sizes, topped by a single, spectacular duplex penthouse. Designed from the inside-out, and the outside-in, there are eight apartments on a typical floor: four two-bedroom apartments and four one-bedroom apartments. The rectilinear floor plate has been extended on each side to create a cruciform plan – by maximising the perimeter in this way, almost all of the units are dual aspect, creating a generous sense of space and light in every residence. Layouts maximise the living area, with an efficient, intuitive plan that places the entrance at the heart of the space to eliminate unnecessary corridors. The bedrooms are enclosed by solid cladding panels for privacy, while the remainder is fully glazed and protected by shading fins. Almost every residence has its own curved balcony with bronze exterior detailing – externally, this helps to soften the tower’s profile, contrasting and setting it apart from the City’s office buildings.
The practice has designed both architecture and interiors. Taking advantage of the light and space provided by the deep windows, and drawing the eye to expansive views of the river and city, the materials palette combines pale wood floors, white marble and luxurious bronze detailing. The design concept fuses the classic sophistication of the financial district with the creative, industrial aesthetic of Shoreditch. The residents’ gym is located on the first floor, and has a sliding glass façade opening onto the plaza. The swimming pool similarly is connected with the streetscape, with views of a restored building and a spa pool set into the curve of the window. The residents’ bar is located on a mezzanine overlooking the activity of the plaza, yet protected behind a ribbon-like metal balustrade. Designed to reduce energy use, the tower targets the Code for Sustainable Homes Level 4, with environmental strategies including a combined heat and power plant, roof mounted photovoltaic panels and grey water harvesting.