Baker Street London, Office Building, Former M&S HQ, English Project

55 Baker St Building

Office Development, England – design by make architects

17 Jan 2008

55 Baker Street

Date built: 2008

Design: make architects

Location: northwest of the city centre

55 Baker Street 55 Baker Street London
images © make architects

Mixed-use redevelopment of former Marks & Spencers Headquarters

The recently-completed 55 Baker Street office development introduces a dynamic new presence to one of London’s most important urban thoroughfares. Designed by Make Architects, this radical renovation of a 1950s office building pursues a cost- and energy-efficient strategy of retention and enhancement which allows the structure to fulfil its potential as an important new urban amenity.

While providing an exceptional range of flexible and highly efficient office spaces, the scheme enhances activity and interest at street level by offering an enriched mix of uses and introducing a substantial new public space to the streetscape.

The original brief required that the building should be refurbished to maximise office accommodation, with the addition of a block of residential accommodation to the rear, and retail at ground level. The design team’s approach, however, was not merely to renovate but to completely reinvent the entire building as a landmark development, with the quality and detail of design applied throughout distinguishing the building from other more conventional speculative office projects.

Despite its radically improved appearance, 50 per cent of the existing built fabric has been retained. Former vertical cores have been removed to rationalise circulation and new floorplates connect the projecting fingers of accommodation to create a substantially increased area of office accommodation. Full height atria are retained at the heart of these office floors to draw natural light deep into the building, while the two central voids are preserved to serve as a courtyard and servicing bay to the rear of the building and as a striking new public entrance atrium on Baker Street.

The transformation of the building is dramatically expressed by three glass infills or ‘masks’ which span the voids between the existing blocks to create a unified but dynamically modulated new facade for the building. Supported by a minimal convex steel structure, the masks situated at either end of the facade serve as double-skinned glazing for the new office floor space, reducing solar gain and noise transmission from the street.

The central glazed section encloses a spectacular seven-storey atrium, accessed directly from street level and open to the public. In addition to creating a major new entrance to the building, this space will introduce a new public focal point to Baker Street as a whole. The ground floor of the building will be entirely re-clad and devoted to retail units, cafes and restaurants which bring new life to the streetscape and generate round-the-clock activity.

The distinctive sculptural effect of the building’s exterior is carried through into the interior, where it articulates the contrast between the existing structure and newly-built elements and reinforces the singular identity of 55 Baker Street at every scale. Expressed in the detailing of an extensive range of bespoke fixtures and fittings – ranging from door handles and ceiling panelling to furnishing fabrics and a range of chairs designed for lobby areas – the faceted theme is perhaps most dramatically realised in the form of the transfer structure in the main reception area.

This steel structure has been engineered using bridge-building technology and liberates the 100-metre-wide reception area from any other supporting columns while creating a strongly sculptural element in its own right.

To the rear of the building, a new residential development reinstates a row of mews housing destroyed during the war and offers a contemporary interpretation of this standard London building type. Twenty three affordable, key worker and private homes are created within a three-storey block which is clad in stack-bonded brick and topped by a sedum roof.

In addition to the cost savings represented by retaining and refurbishing the existing building, the scheme has been designed to minimise environmental impact and optimise energy efficiency and has achieved a BREEAM rating of ‘Excellent’. A system of chilled beams offers a controlled environment within office areas, combining exceptional levels of energy efficiency and low running costs, while the glazed mask forms are double skinned and fritted to prevent excessive solar gain. The result is a refurbished building which has achieved higher energy efficiency levels than a new build.

55 Baker Street has achieved unprecedented pre-letting figures, with occupants including BDO, Knight Frank and developers London & Regional, who will be establishing their head office in the building. The project is also notable for the speed and efficiency of its procurement and construction process; Make was appointed to this project on 1 April 2005 and the first phase of the completed building was handed over in December 2007.

Ian Lomas, of Make, said: “Taking a post-war building and renovating it to make the most of its latent strengths, remedy its weaknesses and introduce all the benefits and efficiencies of a new build has been a fascinating design challenge. With the support of a forward-thinking client, we have been able to introduce an exceptional level of design detailing that lifts 55 Baker Street head and shoulders above a standard speculative office development while achieving exceptional standards for energy efficiency, as reflected the BREEAM rating of ‘Excellent’.”

55 Baker St London : Building Information

Client: London & Regional
architects: make
Consultants: Arup Access, Blyth & Blyth, DP9, Expedition, HBG, Hann Tucker, Indigo Lighting, Land Use, Jason Bruges Studio, Safe, Tweeds

55 Baker Street images / information from make architects

Photo of 55 Baker Street by Matt Chung exclusive to e-architect, 14 Apr 2011:

55 Baker Street
photo ©

Photo by Matt Chung

Baker Street Office Building design : make

Location: 55 Baker Street, Northwest London, England, UK

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