60-70 St Mary's Axe set to make a modest mark on London
London's bustling business district near London Bridge, could soon be host to another unique architectural piece - 60-70 St Mary's Axe. Not to be outdone by its prospective neighbour the Gherkin, the building has been dubbed the Can of Ham in honour of its distinctive half oval shape.
Designed by London-based Foggo Associates the building, whilst distinctive, has been designed as an asset to its local surroundings rather than London at large. Richard Constable, architect at Foggo Associates, advised that a previous incarnation was designed to be taller, but having inspected the plans it was realised that the structure would be seen from the Tower of London and was therefore ruled out and a limit of 90m was self-imposed.
The current 18-storey design will be used mainly as offices covering 17,843 sq m with some retail space at ground level. Asked if there were any concerns about the credit crunch affecting the leaseability of the office space, Constable said: "Naturally it's a concern. It's a concern for us and it's a concern for the client but I think with a quality product at the right time there is a gap in the market."
Described as lying in the foothills of City Towers, the Can of Ham will join the Gherkin, the Lloyds building and the more recent Willis building in this prestigious business district. But does clustering these towers detract from their original individual statements? "I think they gain from being together", said Constable. "Each have their own individuality. Some more than others. There is the largest of the developments set for the area, the Pinnacle...and then the Heron has its own distinctive identity."
The project will also involve a number of public realm improvements at street level allowing for landscaping.
Foggo Associates first looked at the design a number of years ago when the land was in other hands, but the land owners have changed since then, now split ownership of City Corporation and Targetfollow, and the design is set to proceed. Planning permission is currently being sought and is due to be decided upon during Autumn. If this is granted the demolition of two existing office blocks on the site will, provisionally, begin in two to three years and the construction of a modest London landmark will begin.
Asked what the architects think of the building's nickname, Constable said: "I think we're quite enjoying it - everyone knows with these new buildings that they will be named but the client is happy, and we are happy. It's something to laugh at."
Niki May Young