Located next to London’s Old Street roundabout, the redevelopment of The Bower by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM) Architects is an exceptional landmark development within the heart of the creative quarter of Shoreditch and Tech City.
Our team were appointed by Helical Plc to carry out civil and structural engineering design services within the 320,000 ft2 site, offering vibrant retail and restaurant amenities at street level whilst three unique office buildings, The Tower, The Warehouse and The Studio, frame the beautifully landscaped mews.
Having previously been used as a telephone exchange for British Telecoms, The Tower’s original 1960’s heavy cladding and screeded floors were removed from the existing 14 storeys to help balance loads. This permitted three additional floors to be included at roof level with minimal strengthening required to the retained structure.
Staggered side extensions were installed to create dramatic double-height ‘living room’ spaces for the tenants on each side, designed with the ability to incorporate staircases and link adjacent floors to create a much sought-after flexible working environment. Columns were embedded into the façade cladding with stainless steel diagonal rods at each corner to give a column-free illusion.
Given the development’s central location, a hole was punched through the lower levels of The Tower to create a walkthrough from Old Street to Baldwin Street, maximising accessibility, whilst the cores were reconfigured to enable new lifts and risers to meet current BCO standards.
The Warehouse was completely refurbished and stripped back to expose the existing structure. Its overall floorplan was increased to 122,000 ft2 across 11 storeys with the addition of both side and rooftop extensions while private roof terraces were inserted on the fourth, eighth and ninth floors to complement the dynamic working spaces.
Designed from a steel frame and hollow-core precast planks to minimise the building’s weight, an exposed concrete finish was chosen to match the existing frame and multiple new risers were formed using plate strengthening of the slabs. This prevented the need for new trimming beams and further enhanced the structure’s industrial aesthetic.
A shared double-height reception directly links each office block to The Bower’s shared communal facilities; including lounge, café, shower rooms and 400 bicycle storage units.
As the only new build within the development, The Studio’s more simplistic 18,500 ft2 consists of just two storeys and a rooftop terrace that seamlessly merge in with the scheme’s authentic regeneration. With a desire to break up the previously impenetrable block, this smaller counterpart is separated from its towering neighbours by a ramped pedestrian walkway that portrays Old Street’s urban history with a dramatic ‘art wall’.
Charlie Scott, Director for Waterman Structures, commented; “The Bower is a celebration of exemplar refurbishment and new build techniques. By combining the exposed existing and historic structures, the project teams have been able to deliver three vibrant and successful office spaces in the heart of Old Street which are now home to some of the UK’s leading creative businesses.”