55 Gracechurch Street aims to be a new eco-friendly skyscraper for the City of London.
The constant reinvention of the capital has been slowed a touch by a year of lockdowns, but new buildings are ascending to the heavens nonetheless. Yesterday, planning permission was granted for a new skyscraper in the City of London, adding a 30-storey building to the future skyline of our city. 55 Gracechurch Street (a catchy London skyscraper nickname a la The Gherkin, The Shard, the ill-fated Tulip, etc is still TBD) will rise next to London’s Sky Garden, and as if to rival our favourite skyscraping green space, it’ll have a public garden with sweeping views over the city. [Featured image: planning application, via City of London]
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At just (just!) 30 storeys up, 55 Gracechurch Street won’t quite match the heights of its neighbour, but there’s a wealth of cool stuff planned for the building. Per the City of London press release about the building, it’s intended as a “workplace destination” which will also feature “extensive retail, cultural, public art, and open space”. They’re planned as an embrace of what the press release artfully dubs “post-pandemic office trends” – in other words, the realisation that having workers slog it into Central London five days a week to sit in boardrooms and scoff Pret lunches might not be entirely futureproof.
Anyway, employees at the completed skyscraper can expect social and breakout zones, and a mix of large businesses and start-ups to occupy the space. With a focus on sustainability, the building will make use of re-used and recycled building materials during construction, and will be highly energy-efficient by using innovative cooling systems (especially handy when you consider the future of London’s climate).
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The building will also commit to urban greening, by using living walls, green roofs, and tree planning to reduce air pollution and provide access to nature – and the plants will be watered by harvesting rainfall. Additionally, it’s planned as an entirely car-free building, with 500 spaces for bikes to encourage employees to cycle to work. There’s good pedigree here too; the architects behind the design, Fletcher Priest, have developed plenty of buildings in London, including the Bishopgate building that’ll house giant Italian food hall Eataly.
Still, it’s not until we learned about the public-facing space that our interest was truly piqued, as 55 Gracechurch Street will boast a 1600sqm garden terrace, spread across the sixth and seventh floors and open to the public. The garden will include panoramic views (into it) and a suspended treetop walkway (extremely into it), offering visitors a chance to stroll amongst the trees in the heart of the city. Neat!
Meanwhile, the Natural History Museum’s gardens are being transformed into a centre for urban nature.
Also published on Medium.