Barts Square – façade designs revealed for new urban quarter on historic site, City of London

Sheppard Robson, Maccreanor Lavington and Piercy&Company have revealed detailed façade designs for buildings located within Barts Square – a new urban, 3.2 acre mixed-use quarter in the City of London’s Smithfield Conservation Area. Planning consent for these elevations has just been confirmed.

The buildings form part of a masterplan by Sheppard Robson Architects for developers Helical Bar plc and The Baupost Group LLC for a new urban quarter encompassing the redevelopment of a number of former hospital buildings on Little Britain and Bartholomew Close. The overall project consists of 17 buildings providing 215 residential apartments, 230,000ft2 net of Grade A office space and circa 25,000ft2 of retail and café/restaurant use. Detailed planning was granted in November 2012.

Working with lead architects Sheppard Robson, Maccreanor Lavington and Piercy&Company have each designed façades that introduce diversity and additional layers of richness to the overall masterplan.

Sheppard Robson – Building BC4
With its simple tripartite structure, BC4 mirrors its neighbour, 60-62 Barts Close. Like the Eighteenth Century façade of 60-62, the base and middle are the same material (Portland stone), subtly differentiated by narrowing spacing between stone courses. The top of the building is glass, etched and laser cut stainless steel panels, set within fine vertical fins. These elements are repeated on the side elevations, creating diversity and a focal point from Middlesex passage.

The frame is clearly expressed and finely detailed. The floors, with the exception of the tall ground floor, are of an equal height, and punched windows, deeply set, are aligned vertically, for a solid-looking and balanced façade.

The use of stone and stainless steel echoes Butchers Hall, 61/61a (BC5). The careful balance between solid and void makes the building a sympathetic neighbour to older architecture nearby, and the building has a robust look, echoing the Victorian industrial architecture of the area.

Maccreanor Lavington – Building BC1
BC1 straddles two very different existing open spaces: the more formal Bartholomew Close to the south-east, and the secluded Church Garth to the north-west. This eight-storey building will contain a restaurant on the ground floor and basement and residential apartments above with penthouses on the roof.

The designs of the facades reference both warehouses – borrowing the idea of a grid of regularly sized large openings with deep reveals – typical for the Smithfield area, and features of grand mansion blocks. The south-east ‘face’ of the building, looking onto Bartholomew Close, is of both smooth basebed and highly fossiled Portland Stone and composed of openings through projecting frames that are evenly distributed along regular horizontal stone string courses. It provides a civic facade that addresses the more orderly fronts and material qualities of the historic neighbouring buildings.

On the Church Garth side, the elevation for BC1 takes on a different appearance to the Bartholomew Close side. It establishes a calm, more muted response to the adjacent church and cloister. The use of a dark richly purple brick with Portland stone detailing reflects the palette of the existing space.

A new pedestrian passage is also proposed, connecting the two spaces of Bartholomew Close and the Church Garth. It is seen as both a throughway and a grand entrance hall to the apartments. Finely crafted white and gold mosaic tiles are proposed as a continuous vaulted surface with intricately designed lights hanging from the ceiling.

Piercy&Company – Building NBC3 and LB123
Piercy&Company, responsible for the façade designs of two buildings – one residential and the other residential with ground-floor retail – have likewise paid careful attention to detailing and materiality.

Facing onto Middlesex Passage, Building NBC3 ranges from three to five storeys; its design referencing London’s mews houses with a soft material palette and generous bays. Despite the strong vertical grid, the building reads horizontally due to the subtle cast masonry stringers and sills that distinguish each floor level.

Building LB123 faces the cloister of St Bartholomew-the-Great. In response, Piercy&Company referenced the variation of coarse and fine grain of the church to create a contemporary interpretation of a decorated classical building. The building base provides larger openings for retail, progressing to a middle order formed of a simple grid of openings for the apartments, before concluding in a set-back storey differentiated by a change to the material palette.

Piercy&Company became interested in the history of lace making associated with the church and responded by developing a bespoke white-glazed ceramic tile cast with a bas-relief lace pattern. The tiles will line the window reveals of LB123, providing a fine detail in contrast with the building’s robust masonry.

Barts Square is expected to start on site January 2015.