Click a presenter to see a video of their presentation, and the accompanying paper and PowerPoint presentation.
Project Director, Stanhope
Senior Associate, Fletcher Priest Architects
Founder and Managing Director, Orion City Road Trustee Limited
Senior Architect, UNStudio
Founder, UNIONKUL HOLDING A/S
Project Director, COBE
Director, Bouygues Batiment Ile de France
Architect, Renzo Piano Building Workshop
The Best Tall Building Europe Award of Excellence Recipients presentations, chaired by CTBUH UK Chair Javier Quintana de Una, Director, IDOM, covered an incredible range of project types, from office, to residential, to government, and notably, contained two very different restoration projects.
The first to be presented, Angel Court, London, was a complete strip-down and rebuild of a 1970s office tower in an area of London where going taller would have been prohibited. Yet, the building would not be marketable if it did not meet contemporary standards for space, light, and conveniences. “It was about creating a collaborative workspace in an area that was crying out for redevelopment,” said Nick Jarman, Project Director, Stanhope.
In the end, Angel Court returned much more than the sum of its parts. Retaining only the core, the architects rebuilt the structure from the ground up, in the process returning 30 percent of the site area to the public realm, while increasing the amount of leasable floor space by 35 percent, and raising the standard ceiling height from 2.6 to 3 meters. A year on from completion, the building is 80 percent rented.
By rebuilding and recladding the building with a layer of fritted glass, Angel Court was sheathed in a more thermally responsive and light-admitting surface that was 27 percent opaque and 73 percent transparent.
“While this may look like a new building, the reality on the ground is very different,” said Nicholas Worley, Senior Associate, Fletcher Priest Architects. “We are very proud to say the upgrade saved the equivalent of 215 flights between London and Chicago of carbon emissions.”
Just to the north, an entirely different, yet equally constrained by context, building rose to meet demand for high-end residential accommodation in London. Canaletto, a 31-floor residential building, whose form is derived from its location at the end of a basin of the Regent’s Canal, is quite tall for the area but is broken down into visually manageable segments, framed by “C”-shaped extrusions that transition into balconies for the units. This motif was chosen so that “people can point to where they live,” said Aref Lahham, Founder and Managing Director, Orion City Road Trustee Limited.
The architects at UNStudio conceived of a tower whose scale would be broken down into neighborhoods reminiscent of the predominant row housing typology of the British capital, yet also communicate the contemporary aesthetics popping up in the popular Islington neighborhood. Allaying some concerns of local neighbors, the “C”-shaped design was tested and found to “repel pigeons, as well as maximize sunlight penetrating in winter, and minimize glare in the summer,” noted Sander Versluis, Senior Architect, UNStudio.
Continuing the broad theme of renovation, the next presenters, Klaus Kastbjerg, Founder, UNIONKUL HOLDING A/S and Caroline Nagel, Project Director, COBE, discussed how they transformed a disused grain silo in Copenhagen into a thriving residential development with community spaces. Among the biggest challenges of the work was transforming the monolithic structure in such a way that it would be habitable and appealing, while making sure that the result still had an “old soul” that was detectable, Nagel said. Although there were some hiccups that were not anticipated, such as finding a community of 500 pigeons living in the building, the biggest hazard was not “falling in love” with the old structure to the point that a new design could not be effected, Kastbjerg said.
Ultimately, the galvanized steel balconies accreted to the surface, crossed with the preservation of the coal chutes and raw concrete in many areas, achieved the kind of graceful transition the developer and architect were looking for. The end result was a project that was iconic enough to merit a depiction in an episode of the TV show The Simpsons – and successful enough overall to win the 2018 Best Tall Building Europe award.
On a totally different scale and program, but an equally profound requirement for regeneration, the Tribunal de Paris consolidated the city’s courthouses on a single site, reclaimed from railway yards and industrial uses. The massive building, encompassing some 90 courthouses and serving 8,500 people per day, simultaneously needed to be of a large scale to accommodate program and yet be respectful of a city with an ambiguous attitude toward tall buildings within its ring road. The solution was to break the tower into four distinct slabs, with recessed “wasp waist” segments dividing them horizontally. Atop each volume extensive rooftop planting wraps the glimmering building in green and provides breakout and recreation space for occupants.
“It was originally suggested that we separate the courthouse and administrative building,” said Amaury Greig, Architect, Renzo Piano Building Workshop. “We realized the only way to make it work as an expression of the justice system was to combine the two buildings.” Such a combination has never been done before in France. The architects also chose to add communal space that was not explicitly called for in the brief.
Conscious of the effect that the stacked masses would have, the team decided that the “overload of symbolism” would be tempered by both the green bands and by the decision to insert 120 light wells into the roof of the 28-meter-high lobby space, Greig added.