JRA have been commissioned by building owner Obayashi Corporation to write the next chapter in the history of Grade II* listed Bracken House in the City of London
Work has begun on John Robertson Architects’ renovation of Bracken House for Obayashi Corporation, with contractor McLaren beginning strip out works ahead of a refit that will complete in 2018.
Bracken House was built to designs by Sir Albert Richardson and was extensively remodelled by Hopkins architects in 1988. The 200,000 sq ft office building sits adjacent to the precincts of St Paul’s Cathedral and is widely recognised as one of the City of London’s finest twentieth century buildings. It was the first post-war building to receive listed building status and has been awarded a Grade II* listing twice, first in 1988 and again in 2013. John Robertson Architects secured planning permission for the refurbishment in 2016.
John Robertson Architects’ refurbishment will deliver a complete overhaul of the office accommodation after a quarter of a century of use. New internal courtyards will be created to resolve the level changes between the Richardson and Hopkins wings of the building, improving the ease of movement for occupants. The building’s main reception hall will be enlarged with new seating areas and the atrium roof will be modified to admit more daylight. The design includes a proposal to re-activate Richardson’s Cannon Street entrance hall to improve accessibility and strengthen the connection between the historic wings and central office space.
The practice will return to Richardson’s inspiration, the Palazzo Carignano in Turin, to provide the forms of the landscaping for a roof garden – an intention of the Hopkins remodelling that was never realised – creating an extraordinary outdoor space for occupants of the building in the heart of the historic City of London.
John Robertson, Director of John Robertson Architects said: “Bracken House was the first post-war building to receive listed status and sits within direct view of St Paul’s Cathedral in one of the most prominent locations in the City. JRA has worked closely with Obayashi Corporation, The City of London Corporation, Historic England and the Twentieth Century Society to ensure that our design delivers major improvements while respecting the finely detailed fabric of the existing buildings.”
Bracken house was designed by Sir Albert Richardson and opened in 1959 as the headquarters of The Financial Times newspaper. Obayashi Corporation acquired Bracken House in 1987 and the building subsequently became the first post-war building in the UK to be listed, achieving Grade II* status.
In 1988, Obayashi Corporation commissioned Sir Michael Hopkins to remodel Bracken House, replacing the central section of the building that once housed the print works of the newspaper with a sophisticated, highly crafted modern building that has been hailed as one of the masterpieces of the British High-Tech movement in architecture. Hopkins’ additions were added to the Grade II* listing in 2013. The vacation of the building in 2016, following the expiration of the original lease gives Obayashi Corporation the opportunity to refresh the building following a quarter of a century of use.
John Robertson Architects has an excellent track record in the sensitive refurbishment of twentieth century buildings of significant heritage value. The practice’s recent projects include the refurbishment of the Grade II* listed Daily Express building on Fleet Street, the recladding of Chamberlin Powell and Bon’s Grade II listed Great Arthur House on the Golden Lane Estate and the refurbishment of the Grade II listed Bush House, the former home of the BBC World Service.
Refurbishment work at Bracken House will complete in 2018.