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PwC Building by Foster + Partners in London, UK

Typology Case Study

PwC were the last to move into Foster + Partners’ More London development by Tower Bridge, but that did not stop them from impressing theiridentity on this landmark development. Concerned that the angular horseshoe-shaped building (nicknamed the Millennium Falcon because of its resemblance to the Star Wars craft from above) would limit easy circulation of people particularly in the wings, they persuaded the developers to create an internal bridge every few floors to improve circulation. This in turn creates vistas or ‘windows’ from the horseshoe overlooking Tower Bridge and the Tower of London, giving an inside-out feeling to the building.

plan_pwc_01

In plan, the building resembles the Millennium Falcon craft from Star Wars


The black argon-filled glass exterior creates an immediate presence on the river, while the expansive and open atrium with its distinctive diagonal columns gives a sense of scale. The atrium is designed to feel like a hotel, to fit in with PwC’s new way of working.

The workplace is designed to be easy to drop-in to and feels like a place you ‘want’ to go to for work, rather than a place to go to every day. Floor-to-ceiling glass gives sightlines into several floors of the office from the atrium, so as visitors are directed up the escalators to a reception on the mezzanine floor, they can see the organisation at work. A real buzz is created by the atrium as well as a sense of transparency.

Zoom_section_01

Section through Foster’s More London development


Employees book a desk online before coming in each day, but people are not placed randomly. Instead the system takes into account the projects employees are working on and other people they are connected to and places people near to each other who know each other or who are working together − increasing and encouraging the type of serendipitous and cross-team interaction which fosters innovation. On arrival, the entrance to each floor has a digital concierge displaying who else is on the floor, next to a floor manager’s desk − increasing the hotel-like experience of using the building.

The floors themselves are broken up, and have asymmetric lighting, creating a distinct atmosphere in each part of the floor. Partners’ offices have been reduced in size compared with previous buildings, and when they are empty employees are encouraged to use them as meeting rooms. Ad hoc meetings and collaboration is actively encouraged by the variety of informal and ‘kitchen’ spaces, while the tables of the restaurant are designed to be used as team collaboration spaces outside the lunchtime rush. With 96 per cent perimeter natural light penetrating all parts of the building and clear sightlines throughout, the sense of transparency and activity is palpable. More London was awarded a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ category, an achievement which adds to PwC’s desire for the building to reflect ‘understated excellence’.

TYPOLOGY QUARTERLY

Introductory Essay

OTHER CASE STUDIES

Interpolis Building by Abe Bonnema in Tilburg, The Netherlands


British Airways Building by Niels Torp in Heathrow, UK


Macquarie Building by Fitzpatrick + Partners in Sydney, Australia


Microsoft Building by Sevil Peach in Schiphol, The Netherlands

 

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