A Design-Inspired Metamorphic Skyscraper
The first steps in the history of the One Blackfriars tower in London can be traced way back to the 1950s when Finnish designer Timo Sarpeneva created the iconic glass vase that became famous as “Lansetti II”. This iconic creation was the source of inspiration for the skyscraper completed in 2019 in the heart of the British capital by SimpsonHaugh, a construction that is both dynamic and unusual, but also a perfect addition to the local skyline.
Guided by the legacy of the glass wizard and drawing heavily on the power of technology, the main block rises 170 m across 50 floors, with two additional buildings at the base. The most visually striking feature is the envelope made with different types of glass panels, which is why Guardian Glass was brought into the project with a brief to create a sense of openness and connection with the outside. The intermingling of the glass and sunlight enhances the metamorphic reflections and colors of the façade to reiterate the dynamism of the architectural forms, while also adding transparency to allow occasional glimpses into the inside.
The main building is effectively a tower within a tower as it has two distinct and independent façades that protect the 274 apartments looking down on the River Thames and Blackfriars Bridge, or out across the metropolis. The outer skin uses 5,476 glass panels, a third of which are curved or double curved, to follow the form of the structure and allow glimpses of the back-painted colored panels of the inner skin. The products used for the main tower include SunGuard® HD Silver 70 on UltraClear™ low-iron glass.
For the two smaller buildings at the base, with a boutique hotel and retail and leisure space, the solution not only needed to provide solar protection and thermal insulation, but also transparency. As such, coated solar control glass on UltraClear™ low-iron glass was chosen. This means the latter was used in all parts of the complex, as it was not only selected for the main tower, but also the lobby, the shop windows and the hotel exterior, albeit combined with different neutral glasses of varying thickness, in both curved and flat solutions. To borrow the words of Christian Male from SimpsonHaugh, the overall effect of this is a “very clean look”, as white as possible but still extremely rich.