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Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.

Central St. Giles Court in London, UK by Renzo Piano Building Workshop Architects

April 16th, 2011 by Sumit Singhal


St Giles Court is owned by Legal & General who, with Stanhope as Development Manager, has instructed the world-renowned architects Renzo Piano Building Workshop to prepare a scheme for its redevelopment.

Image Courtesy Michel Denancé

  • Architects: Renzo Piano Building Workshop Architects
  • Project: Central St. Giles Court
  • Location: London, UK
  • Client: Legal & General with Mitsubishi Estate Corporation Stanhope PLC
  • Collaboration: Fletcher Priest Architects
  • Site: 1.75 Acre
  • Construction Start: November 2001
  • Completed: 26 May 2010

Image Courtesy Michel Denancé

Mixed-Use Development

  • Offices: 420 000 sq ft on 10 floors
  • Residential: 94 000 sq ft, 56 private and 53 affordable apartments
  • Public Piazza: 22 000 sq ft
  • Restaurants, Cafés and Retail Spaces at the Groundfloor: 23 000 sq ft
  • Work Lobby: 5 000 sq ft
  • Full height Glazed Façade, 6 m high, at the groundfloor, to guarantee transparencyand permeability through the building
  • Oak tree at the heart of the Piazza

Image Courtesy Michel Denancé

  • Design team: J.Moolhuijzen, M.van der Staay (partner and associate in charge), N.Mecattaf (associate) with L.Battaglia, S.Becchi, A.Belvedere, G.Carravieri, E.Chen, D.Colas, P.Colonna, W.Matthews, G.Mezzanotte, S.Mikou, Ph.Molter, Y.Pagès, M.Pare, L.Piazza, M.Reale, J.Rousseau, S.Singer Bayrle, R.Stampton and M.Aloisini, R.Biavati, M.Pierce, L.Voiland; O.Auber, C.Colson, Y.Kyrkos (models)
  • Consultants: Ove Arup & Partners (structure and services); Davis Langdon (cost consultant); Bovis Lend Lease (pre-construction advice); Emmer Pfenninger & Partners (façades); P.Castiglioni / G.Bianchi (lighting); PRP (fit-out for affordable residential); Charles Funke Associates (landscaping)

Image Courtesy Maurits van der Staay

22 Ceramic Facets in extruded and glazed elements at the upper floors:

The extrusions are pressed from a highly sophisticated mix of different types of clay, subsequently dried for several days, and then burned at high temperature for around 24 hours. After being cut to size, the glazing material is brought on in liquid form, and the pieces are burnt a second time.

Image Courtesy Maurits van der Staay

Each extrusion has been drawn specially for this project by RPBW, and further technically fine-tuned in collaboration with NBK; each has been produced, adapted and tested several times during the design process.

6 different colours
18 different terracotta extrusion profiles
700 different tiles in length and colour
3306 ceramic clad facade units on the buildings. (2310 on the Offices building, 996 on the residential building)
– Each unit contains 32 ceramic elements on a total of over 400 components
– The total number of tiles on the buildings will be 121.000, representing a total length of more than 110 km
– Set back Façades are completely glazed: triple glazed with castellated mullions on the South and West side,double glazed on the N and E side.
Winter Gardens in Offices and Apartments at every floor: “breathing spaces” with motorized openable glass louvres
Roof Gardens: 10 000 sq feet on levels 8-10
Accessible terraces on levels 7-9.
– Overall Façades Area: 25 361
– Overall Cost of Façade: 1 045 £ / m²

Image Courtesy Maurits van der Staay

The current building on the site is an isolated single-use office building of little architectural merit. It is an anonymous building, set back from the plot boundary in many places and does not interact with the surrounding streets, which lack identity and a sense of place and suffer considerable crime-related problems.

Image Courtesy Maurits van der Staay

Legal & General’s brief to its development team has been to produce a visionary mixed use development of the highest architectural quality which will create a new destination as a focus for regenerating this long neglected neighbourhood.

Image Courtesy Joost Moolhuijzen

This exhibition is being held to show work in progress on the current proposals for the St Giles Court site and receive your initial feedback and views on the latest stage of designs.

Image Courtesy Maurits van der Staay


Buildings & Spaces

The proposed concept for the site is to transform a single-use office building into a genuinely mixed use development incorporating office, retail, restaurant and residential use; seeking to create a new destination integrated within the local area.

Image Courtesy Maurits van der Staay

The proposals for this site have evolved over time. The current proposal comprises three building forms (one office/retail building and two linked residential/retail buildings) set around a new courtyard in the centre of the site, which is connected by a publicly accessible route and ground floor public uses to the surrounding streets and spaces.

Image Courtesy RPBW

The proposed development is approximately 698,000 square feet in size (64,800 sqm), comprising 555,400 square feet of office space (51,600 sqm), 45,400 square feet of retail uses (4,200 sqm), and 97,000 square feet of residential (9,000 sqm), 37% of which would be affordable housing. 53 parking spaces are proposed.

Image Courtesy RPBW

A Safer Public Realm

An important aim of the proposals for this site is to combat the considerable crime-related problems in the St Giles area.

The key elements of the scheme which will assist in combating crime are as follows:

  • Introducing activity into the area
  • Mix of uses (particularly retail, restaurants and housing) introducing daytime and night time surveillance
  • Creating a properly managed and controlled environment which is reflected in the urban design approach to the layout of retail units, spaces and pedestrian routes

Image Courtesy RPBW

Retail Vision

The proposal seeks to introduce a carefully selected mix of A1 (retail) and A3 (food and drink) uses to the ground floor of the development.

The proposed A3 uses will be predominantly restaurants that are critical to the needs of the office workers as well as attracting people to this location, creating an environment which deters crime and anti-social behaviour. The units would all be properly managed and controlled and would primarily be high quality, sit-down restaurants. The A1 uses are proposed to serve existing and proposed local residents in the area.

Image Courtesy RPBW


The London Borough of Camden’s objectives for this site are set out in the Council’s draft Planning Brief and in the wider draft Tottenham Court Road and St Giles Area Area Framework.

Image Courtesy RPBW

The proposed development will:

  • Realise the full potential of the site reflecting its location in the heart of the Area for Intensification and of London as a whole

  • Assist in integrating the St Giles area with its surroundings and improving the public realm by creating outward looking buildings, active frontages and improved public spaces and linkages to adjoining areas

  • Be genuinely mixed use and make a significant contribution to the Council’s priority residential use

  • Exploit the heritage of this historic area by enhancing the setting of nearby listed buildings, particularly the Grade I listed St Giles Church which faces the site across St Giles High Street and the Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church which backs onto the site across Dyott Street; and

  • Be of the highest architectural, urban, environmental design standards

Image Courtesy RPBW

Related posts:

Contact Renzo Piano Building Workshop Architects

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