11-15 Baker Street, London by Squire and Partners
Squire and Partners keeps up appearances on one of London’s most celebrated thoroughfares with a sharp white-concrete facade that echoes its Portland stone neighbours
11-15 Baker Street is a mixed-used development replacing two post-war buildings. Given its location just outside a conservation area, the challenge for architect Squire and Partners was to provide a modern visual statement while echoing the Portland stone of adjacent buildings.
The solution is an elegantly formal arrangement of slender, uniform precast columns that frame cassette glazing units. The primary office elevations are split into three discrete elements. The glazing to the central three floors is flush with the spandrels and beams, while glazing above and below is recessed. Within this framework, two additional areas of large flush glazing are introduced along with adjacent recessed colonnades, supplying a lively and asymmetrical composition to the streetfront.
The architect wanted to avoid traditional vertical structural lines in order to maximise the effect of the ground-floor colonnade and the sixth-floor terrace. Squire achieved this through the use of a hybrid system with structural precast columns. This solution reinforces the architectural concept because, as the building rises, the structural loadings, and therefore the amount of structure required, decrease.
The precast concrete columns also play an important role in maximising the net area. The two-storey columns that pass through the ground-floor arcade would have needed to be much wider had they been made from steel and clad in Portland stone. As it is, all of the precast columns and beams are 350mm wide, which enhances the sense of lightness of the facade.
The quality of the concrete is also key. The precast units were manufactured using a special mix incorporating limestone aggregate and Spanish Dolomite fines with white cement. The finish has a texture and sparkle that emphasises the crispness of the design, as well as strongly resembling the stone of the surrounding buildings, both in colour and texture.
The precast columns demonstrate how concrete can be integral to a minimal aesthetic, and contribute to a high specification appropriate to such a prominent location.
Client Brittain Hadley Group
Architect Squire and Partners
Structural engineers Scott Wilson, Taylor + Boyd
Main contractor McAleer & Rushe
Concrete contractor Evans Concrete Products