The low-rise, deep-plan, energy-conscious office building with flexible, full-access floors and improved circulation is a concept pioneered by the practice in the early 1970s with the design of the Willis Faber & Dumas Headquarters. Nearly thirty years after Willis Faber's completion, the practice is continuing to replace obsolete 1960s office towers with lower-rise structures for progressive developers. Although each is particular to its site, the design specifications are remarkably similar to those of Willis Faber. What was once avant-garde has entered the mainstream.
The City of London has traditionally been characterised by relatively small-scale buildings laid out on an essentially mediaeval street plan. Situated within this context, these seven-storey offices in Tower Place, close to the Tower of London, replace an insensitive sixteen-storey office development that obstructed important view corridors between Greenwich and St Paul's Cathedral and between the Monument and the Tower. The new buildings help to restore the site's traditional urban grain, while reinstating historical views and creating a new piazza in front of All Hallows Church.
The development is configured in two blocks, broadly triangular in plan. The stone and glass cladding system is designed to allow maximum daylight penetration, while blade-like aluminium louvres provide solar shading and add a shifting textural layer to the facades. Linking the two blocks is a glazed atrium - one of the largest such spaces in Europe. The engineering of the atrium's glass walls is highly advanced. Glass panels are hung like curtains from tension cables stretched between the two buildings; they terminate a storey above ground level to define a naturally ventilated space that forms a covered extension of the piazza outside. The space incorporates two designated City Walkways, inviting people to use it as a thoroughfare or as a place to meet friends and colleagues throughout the day.