Brick Manufacturer: Wienerberger Limited
Brick Name: Cinder Grey
Architect: Morris + Company
Contractor: Swift Brickwork Limited
About the project
The Featherstone Building redevelopment incorporates the demolition of two existing buildings located on the corner of City Road and along Featherstone Street and the redevelopment of the site to provide a new high-quality office building and retail unit.
The ambition of the proposal was to create an architecturally rich scheme within the context which complements the surrounding commercial Victorian typologies of Clerkenwell and Shoreditch; a building that is sufficiently robust and flexible to ensure its continued use well into the future as London’s Victorian building stock has proven to date.
The Featherstone Building manifests many of the critical ideas which underpin our practice ethos, fusing site-specific contextual references with modern engineering and cutting-edge construction techniques to build upon Clerkenwell’s rich history of making and innovation. It is a symbiosis of interpretation and radical innovation at every level in layering intelligent building performance over an echo of Clerkenwell’s rich legacy in its form, materiality, detailing and texture.
The project faced challenges, such as the poor architectural quality and inadequate suitability of the existing buildings for modern office needs. The new building offers additional amenity, such as a sheltered loggia, Juliette balconies and roof terraces, as well as generous communal breakout space.
Featherstone is a Net Zero Embodied carbon building, utilising off-site low-carbon facade systems and concrete core cooling. It boasts significant Carbon Reduction through material development and specification (Pre-cast concrete facade, GRC /composite prefab) to meet Derwent London’s Sustainability Policy.
A key challenge has been creating a building that feels at home in both the developing context of Old Street Roundabout, and the historic condition of Bunhill Fields. The façade embeds The Featherstone Building into its rich Victorian context - brick piers support textured precast spandrels and mullions assembled in a T-shaped configuration on a regular 3m grid, interspersed with ‘loading bay’ Juliette balconies of a fine woven metal balustrade. As each block transitions to the next, precast and brick changes in tone, from charcoal to white. The challenge for the design team was adopting a previous masonry design for a unitised façade system to facilitate the construction programme and site logistics so late in the design stage. The unitised curtain wall system had to be designed to fit within a very constricted facade zone; where previously the slab edge extended to support SFS backing wall and hand laid brickwork. The ground floor design remained as hand laid brickwork, keeping the full bricks tactile and robustness qualities intact. A great effort was made to match the quality of the ground floor hand laid brickwork with the quality provided by the factory setting out of the piers on the first and second floors. The transition between off-site and on-site brickwork occurs without revealing the different nature of the construction methodologies. All the ground floor signage was integrated in the brickwork as bespoke masonry elements, bringing the feeling of the precast elements to the street level.
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