New London Architecture

A ‘fabric first’ reconfiguration of prominent Canary Wharf building

Friday 11 December 2020

Peta Nichols

Associate Director
BuckleyGrayYeoman

The major refurbishment of 30 South Colonnade in Canary Wharf will significantly improve its environmental performance and relationship with the surrounding public realm
 
The major redevelopment of 30 South Colonnade will create a NIA 408,000 sq ft building. The work redevelops one of the first building’s in Canary Wharf that has been home to Thomson Reuters for the past 15 years.
 
The project will increase ground-level activation across the lower floors, provide 25% more office and retail space, articulate a bold new façade, and altogether create a striking reimagination of an existing building that avoids the need for demolition over water.
 
By improving the performance of the external façade, the practice has taken a ‘fabric first’ approach whereby the thermal performance of new glazing is much higher than the existing marble façade. The proposals will reduce the overall energy demand of the building by 62%, whilst avoiding demolition is estimated to save 10,260 tonne CO2e - equivalent to planting 51,300 trees (or 1,480 car trips around the equator).

 
The building upholds Canary Wharf’s site-wide aspiration to reintegrate the public realm. The existing ground-level entrance will be shifted and enlarged to a more prominent position on Jubilee Plaza. This new triple-height covered entrance will face Canary Wharf Underground Station, include F&B units and will be publicly accessible – thus improving the street-level relationship between the building and surrounding public realm. Internally, the building’s reception will be split over two levels with entrances at both Promenade and Plaza levels. 
 
Through infilling an existing atrium and increasing the building’s massing, a 25% NIA (97,500sqft) uplift will be achieved despite only increasing the number of storeys from 12 to 14 and the building’s height by 9530mm.  The overall GIA will increase from 423,000sqft of office and 16,000sqft of retail (Total 439,000sqft) - to 514,000sqft of office and 30,000sqft of retail (Total 544,000 sqft). The completed building is aiming to achieve BREEAM Outstanding; WELL ready; a platinum Wired Score rating and incorporate SMART technologies.

Interview with Peta Nichols, Associate Director at Buckley Gray Yeoman:

“We knew that there was more to gain by working with the existing fabric of a space instead of racing to the conclusion that it’s better to demolish and start over, so the scheme makes the existing structure work hard to allow for significant reconfiguration.
 
 The building was completed long before Canary Wharf became what it is today and prior to the opening of the Jubilee line extension. The substantial changes in the area in the intervening decades mean that the orientation of the building, its entry points and the way it connects with the surrounding public realm had to be rethought for today’s use.”
 
Why does the building need to be upgraded? 
 
The existing building was completed in 1991, long before Canary Wharf became what it is today and prior to the opening of the Jubilee line extension. The substantial changes in the area in the intervening decades mean that the orientation of the building, its entry points and the way it connects with the surrounding public realm, has to be rethought for today’s use. 
 
Why did you decide to retain the existing building rather than demolish it? 
 
First and foremost, the building sits over water and therefore is essentially built on stilts. This placed major constraints on adding further floors because it meant we couldn’t penetrate the slab without having to re-pile through the water. This technical restriction around adding height forced us to examine the building in its current state to look at how we could add floorspace without pulling it down and rebuilding it. 
 
Our decision to re-clad the façade was in part driven by our internal reconfiguration. By shifting a stair core and filling in the multi-storey central atrium space, we’ve deepened the floor plate to achieve a considerable uplift in NIA. The new façade, with its expansive glazing, is necessary to introduce as much natural light as possible into the building, but it also provided an opportunity to introduce green terraces to every floor as secondary breakout spaces. 
 
Articulating a façade which is designed to look like a new building, but is in reality a refurbishment, presented a challenge because we were working with the existing structural grids. The grids weren’t necessarily set out where we would have liked them, so each corner had to be treated individually to design around the existing column grid.  
 
As a practice, we very rarely knock down a building and start again, we’re always looking to see what’s possible and how far we can take the existing structure. The building’s location over water is obviously a huge deterrent to demolition. Through design studies we identified that we were able to find an additional 25% NIA through internal reconfiguration and a three storey extension, so we were able to make the numbers add up for the client, Quadrant Estates. They were quick to appreciate the value-add, both from an environmental and viability perspective, in refurbishing the existing building, which ultimately promised a shorter programme and far less embodied carbon. 
 
How did you work to minimise the whole-life carbon impact of the building?
 
Sustainability and well-being has been at the forefront of the design process. The building has been designed to minimise energy and water use, and provide a healthy, comfortable environment for tenants and visitors.  Our energy assessments show that our proposals have reduced the overall energy demand of the building by 62%. The development has taken a fabric first approach, by improving the performance of the external façade; the thermal performance of the new glazing is much higher than the existing marble façade. 
 
In addition to the proposed improvements to the facade, energy efficient measures have been incorporated into the design. For example: the building is all-electric, it utilises high-efficiency building services, photovoltaic panels on the roof, the use of an air source heat pump to provide free heating, and waste heat produced during cooling will be redirected to other areas in the building. We have also interrogated all products used within the building to try and use materials that can be recycled at the end of their life. As a measure of our commitment to sustainable design, the building has been designed to achieve a BREEAM 2018 Excellent rating. 
 
What have been the main lessons from the project that you could apply on other developments?
 
We wanted to take the time to look beyond what may be a tired or unsightly façade and analyse what the possibilities are. We are no strangers to retrofitting buildings and believe that often there will be more to gain by working with the existing fabric of a space instead of racing to the conclusion that it’s better to demolish and start over.  


Peta Nichols

Associate Director
BuckleyGrayYeoman


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