Fletcher Priest Architects has designed Derwent London’s new Brunel Building, a 17-story construction overlooking the Grand Union Canal and opposite London’s famous Paddington Tube station. The building’s urban setting influenced the architects’ compositional decisions and, therefore, the underlying aesthetic of the project. The objective was to design a building that would be innovative, both in terms of its workspaces as well as in its role as a local landmark.
“We agreed that the design demanded a robust construction that would embody the spirit of the great engineer Brunel,” explains Derwent London’s Simon Silver.
The presence of the canal and, in one corner of the site, two Underground lines, influenced the construction technologies used in the building. The setback on the northwest corner of the site meant that the engineers could reduce the load on the foundations. Shifting the structural columns to outside the façade made it possible to create flexible, column-free workspaces, with spans of 39–52 feet (12–16 m) out from the core walls and of 216 feet (66 m) across the complex.
High soffits allow daylight to penetrate into the innermost rooms. Likewise, the floor beams taper towards the exoskeleton, making it possible to use larger windows, which take advantage of the solar shading provided by the external load-bearing structure. With service slabs just 4 inches (100 mm) thick, the height of the floors made it possible to increase the size of the windows. All these technological and engineering solutions were made possible by close collaboration between Fletcher Priest Architects and Arup.
“Building services have been left on display throughout, to reveal how the building has been constructed,” says Fletcher Priest partner, Keith Priest. “This strategy is most emphatically revealed through the exposed external structure, while vibrant orange, inspired by waterside safety equipment, was chosen to highlight mechanical and structural elements and canal-side public lifts.”
Environmental sustainability was a key element in the design. The external steel structure alone provides shading for 20 percent of the façade, therefore contributing to reducing energy needs. An aquifer thermal energy store (ATES) with two forty-story deep boreholes provides low-carbon heating and cooling. More than 90% of construction waste was recycled, with ground blast furnace slag (a waste product of iron and steel production) used in the concrete.
Architect: Fletcher Priest Architects
Photography by © FPA Jack Hobhouse,Drik Lindner, Raluca Ciorbaru
courtesy of Fletcher Priest Architects