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The Quill, London, United Kingdom

Thursday 02 Dec 2010

Spparc put pen to paper

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Southwark council approve student hub in the shadow of the Shard 

The Quill, a two part 21- and 31-storey ‘student hub’ by London based architecture practice Spparc Architecture has been approved by Southwark council. Designed to provide accommodation and amenities for students at King’s College London (KCL), the tower is loosely based on the form of an old-fashioned pen referencing Southwark’s literary history.

With 470 rooms, a student bar, library, gym and café, the uppermost point of the Quill will stand at 109m in height, not 100m from London Bridge. Due to be located in the shadow of Renzo Piano’s towering 310m Shard, the Quill has been subject to fiery criticism from the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) – the UK’s design watchdog – who have labelled the design ‘ungainly’, ‘awkward’ and 'over complex’. CABE eventually concluded that it was ‘unable to support the planning application’.

English Heritage has also voiced concern over the project, worried that the new tower will have a negative effect on the current views afforded from the Tower of London. Despite this, Spparc principal Trevor Morriss noted that he was ‘delighted to have received planning approval’.

A BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating has been targeted for the project, with Spparc explaining: “Sustainable development, good urban design and strong architectural detailing are the key principles that have informed the design. The form, scale and mass of the scheme ensures the integration and interconnection into the existing Southwark fabric and the wider London context.”

An existing 1960s Education Support building currently in use by KCL will be demolished in order to make room for the new facility, which also looks to provide the local area with a new pedestrian link from St Thomas Street to Weston Street in an area oriented to capture both morning and afternoon sunlight.


Key Facts

Status Planning approved
Value 0(m€)
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Spparc Architecture

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Mirza Shafi

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