Bloomberg’s new European headquarters, located in the heart of the City of London, features on this year’s RIBA Stirling Prize shortlist of six of the UK’s best buildings. One of the world’s most sustainable office buildings, its form, massing and materials are sensitive to its historic setting yet clearly of its own time, also making a positive contribution to the public realm.
Bloomberg comprises two buildings connected by link bridges over a dining arcade that bisects the site and returns a lost portion of Watling Street, an ancient Roman road, back to the City grid. The building is an exemplar of sustainability and is rated BREEAM Outstanding, with the highest design-stage score by any major office development globally. Its self-shading facades and natural ventilation throughout the deep-plan interior spaces contribute significantly to the energy efficiency of the building, which also incorporates innovative water conservation strategies, lighting and power systems.
The building’s interior is a highly specific response to Bloomberg – the global business information and technology company – and its 4,000 London-based employees, designed to inspire collaboration and communication in a dynamic, innovative environment.
Bloomberg joins eight of the practice’s other buildings that have been shortlisted previously, with the American Air Museum at Duxford and 30 St Mary Axe in London winning in 1998 and 2004 respectively.
This year’s RIBA Stirling Prize winner will be announced on Wednesday 10 October at the Roundhouse, London.
Occupying a whole block within the city, this project is a large office building to house all of Bloomberg’s employees under one roof for the first time. Externally the building incorporates a covered walkway all round its perimeter. There is also a new street created, carving the building into two blocks connected by bridges. Commercial units for restaurants etc. are arranged at ground level. There is an external undulation in plan described by the architect as an expression of the movement around the building.
After entering the building one encounters some understandably very tight security, then one moves through an architectural procession to the lifts. This procession includes ‘the vortex’ which is an art piece, one of several throughout the scheme. The lifts – specially designed – take you to a mid-level floor where the main concourse / café space is located. Desks and workspaces are then distributed in clusters accessible from a winding curved ramp, which curls through the building linking the various levels.
The whole building, inside and out, is executed to a very high quality. Externally the building is of an appropriate scale to the surroundings. It seeks to create a dialogue with some very old neighbouring buildings and in that it is quite successful. The covered walkway represents a level of generosity towards the city.
Internally, the process of moving through the architectural procession and up in the lifts creates a completely immersive environment. The concourse level is very vibrant, buzzing with activity and isolated from its surroundings. There’s a sense of Willy Wonka about the space. It is here that the real success of the project starts to emerge. Everywhere you look there is an inventive detail. From the bespoke folded aluminium ceiling ‘roses’ to the magnetic floorboards. The aim of the building was to avoid standard office space and in this it succeeds.
Overall the project is a tour-de-force. This is the opposite of a quiet understated building. In fact, the multiplicity of invention at numerous levels is carried through with such conviction that you cannot fail but be impressed by it.
News via Foster + Partners