As part of the redevelopment of Broadgate’s inaugural building 1 Finsbury Avenue Square (1FA), British Land has commissioned a series of permanent works by British artist Morag Myerscough. The works encompass the entire ground floor of the newly created public space, providing a visual welcome in Myerscough’s signature style.
The striking centrepiece is the biophilic installation ‘Atoll’, a colourful permanent 7.5m high structural intervention housing a cafe. Atoll is envisaged as a beacon that will encourage the public to use the newly opened route connecting the surrounding neighbourhood to the Broadgate campus, making a formerly corporate space accessible to all. The semi-open nature of the interior also means that workers on the mezzanine levels can look down at the verdant planting within the structure.
Myerscough’s inspiration for Atoll comes from her own connections with London, having lived here all her life, and the biophilia hypothesis being the idea that humans have an innate tendency to seek connections with nature. Myerscough’s many public projects have drawn inspiration from how colour and nature help to improve wellbeing.
My fascination with how the Victorians made public parks for city workers to get fresh air at weekends (as a child I lived very close to Finsbury Park) has inspired me to bring the park to the workplace at 1FA.
The lower level is occupied by a café, run by Butterscotch Bakery, whilst the upper level of the Atoll incorporates the outline of three London terraced houses, surrounded by dense planting and completed with six neon suns signifying joy and energy. The houses make reference to Broadgate’s residential history, introducing a sense of intimacy and domesticity to the space.
At the public entry lobbies on the eastern and western sides of the building, Myerscough has incorporated Tri-wall advertising boards, animating three patterns; the concept provides a warm welcome to visitors. The rotating Tri-wall format also gives a nod to the building’s 1980s heritage, further celebrating the era of Broadgate’s inception whilst looking to the future.
The installation continues to spread through the whole of the atrium with large scale, patterned, hand painted walls. An expansive seating area with handmade and hand painted overstuffed velvet cushioned seating, tables, benches and planters, designed and made by Myerscough and Luke Morgan at their local Hoxton studio. A rear translucent screen is covered in plants held within a bespoke metal planting grid designed and fabricated by Morgan.
The materiality of the permanent installation is as important as narrative, with bespoke ceramic tiles and FSC rated marine ply. Morag spent months developing the tiling, mixing Victorian references with her own signature colours and 3D optical patterns. The vibrant patterns contrast with 1FA’s symmetricality, dark bronze anodized cladding and black painted exposed interior structure.
Refurbishment of 1FA by architects AHMM for British Land aims to shift the building’s emphasis from single tenancy to mixed use retail, leisure and flexible working spaces. At the heart of the project was an ambition to re-establish a primary east-west public route through the building, helping to activate the ground floor while creating a new connection between Wilson Street and Finsbury Avenue Square on the Broadgate campus. The building, now Grade II listed, was originally designed in the 1980s by Arup Associates and was the first to be completed on the Broadgate Estate.
Public artworks have been part of the DNA of Broadgate since its inception. Works enliven public spaces and extend into the lobbies of buildings and across the neighbourhood. Visitors can take in the works via the Art Trail or simply explore London’s most diverse and welcoming art gallery which includes the newest additions at 1FA by Myerscough.