John McAslan + Partners strikes a balance between historic sensitivity and contemporary design
No. 5 Cheapside is a major new high quality office and mixed-use development next to Paternoster Square in the heart of the City of London. It brings an entirely new building form to a culturally and commercially critical site less than 100m from St Paul's Cathedral. Our challenge was to design the building so that it responded to St Paul’s height-grid, protected viewing corridors and local building setback requirements.
What was designed is a considered building, whose sculpted form and striking geometry is a precise response to the views and scale of the surrounding buildings and public space. Along the southern boundary, the building aligns with existing churchyard railings and the western edge recreates a pedestrian route along Panyer Ally. The footprint of the new block redefines the urban fabric that tightly encloses the space surrounding the Cathedral; the architects wanted to ensure it felt separate from the busy streets to the north.
The sculpted form is the result of cutting planes from an imagined building block. The façade appears as a series of ‘polished’ cut surfaces and utilises a triple glazed system with a woven metal brass fabric interlayer set between the two outermost sheets of glass. In terms of efficiency it has a 30% U-value improvement over standard glazing and assists the building in achieving a BREEAM Excellent rating.
The façade is punctuated with a series of clear glazed openings and extrusions that respond to specific views in the surroundings and indicate functions within the building. No 5 Cheapside will have a significant impact on the experience of the historic City of London. When built, the scheme will integrate the needs of the users inside the building just as much as the 40,000 tourists and commuters interacting with it on the street. Considering the influence of and sensitivity to its historic surroundings, No 5 Cheapside is a decisively modern icon.