Holborn viaduct is a long corridor of unremitting office blocks being very glass and stone, but one could go up that will be covered in green plants.
The site is currently occupied by the 1960s Remington / Citiscape House, which has been closed for around a decade waiting for someone to do something with it. Permission to develop the site was granted in 2014 for a bland glass office, but lapsed in 2019 when it wasn’t used.
The replacement wont be an office though, but a mixed use building that’s predominately going to be a hotel.
The most dramatic impact of the building will be the cladding — the largest green wall in Europe. Deep recessed will run around the windows and will be filled with planting to create a fairly unique effect in this part of London, and will stand out strongly against the existing glass and steel offices of the area.
A green wall is a costly thing to manage, but as the building will be a hotel, it would be likely to be seen as part of the cost of doing business to bring in the visitors attracted by the novelty of the design.
The top floor will be a viewing gallery — which they say will be fully open to the public, although the planning application is light on any restrictions they might impose on the number of days they can close it for private functions.
Unlike some other skygardens, this one wont be shared with the restaurant, but will overlook one as it will be on the floor below. The lower height of the building, at 10 storeys means it wont be a headline grabbing vantage point, unlike say the Shard, but it’s proximity to the Museum of London and frankly the lack of local viewing areas in this part of London should mean it’s still popular.
Although the building will be aesthetically significant, just as interesting is the engineering of the structure.
The building is awkward due to a major complication – the Thameslink railway tunnel runs runs right underneath half the site. The older planning approval had expected to dig deep piles around the railway tunnel, as at the time, it was being closed regularly for upgrades.
That’s no longer possible, so the revised scheme will see a deep basement built next to the railway tunnel, and the foundations for that will then allow the rest of the building to effectively cantilever over the railway without additional piles being dug or the railway tunnel closed.
That also means that the structure has to be built of two different primary materials, with a concrete building on one side, and a much lighter steel latticework building over the railway side.
Of course, once finished, no one will be able to tell the difference between the two sides, and the whole block will be more notable for the green wall and rooftop access.
All images from the planning application.