Foggo Associates has designed a curved high-rise in central London at 70 St Mary Axe, which is widely known as the “Can of Ham” due to its distinctive shape.
The 22-story tower stands on the same street as the Foster + Partners-designed skyscraper at 30 St Mary Axe, which is called the Gherkin, in a grouping of high-rises in the City of London.
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The 90-meter-tall block contains 28,000 square meters of office space on its upper 20 floors, above 430 square meters of shops on the first, ground and basement level.
The building has an arched profile, with two curved façades and flat ends creating a distinctive shape that resembles the shape of tins of ham, from which it gets its nickname.
“It could be argued that it is a mark of its iconic nature as other buildings of such recognizable form all seem to gain nicknames,” said David Warrender, director at Foggo Associates. “We will take it as a compliment,” he added.
70 St Mary Axe’s unusual form was the result of Foggo Associates wanting to reduce the building’s footprint at street level while creating standard-shaped floors for use as offices.
“We wanted to give back space to the public realm around the base of the building, and for the building to appear less sheer on the principal elevations on Bevis Marks and Houndsditch,” explained Warrender.
“There is a misconception that the building is a funny shape and therefore must have oddly-shaped floor plates, when in fact, the scheme is a classic central core building where every floor is a perfect rectangle, albeit of varying sizes.”
The building is entirely clad in glass, with a series of light-bronze-colored anodized aluminum fins that run up the curved façades and wrap over the top.
At the top of the tower, the glass panels are replaced with a mesh to give the appearance of a continuous surface and hide the building’s plant, which provides cooling and heating units along with two generators.
“We worked very hard with our Italian cladding contractor, Focchi, to develop a perforated mesh panel which has the appearance of glass between the cladding fins which wrap over the top of the building to screen the plant and equipment which is up there by necessity,” Warrender said.
The building is topped with two retractable doors to allow the window cleaning crane to emerge when needed.
On the ground floor, the building has a double-height entrance atrium, which has a concrete reception desk set at its center.
Walls in the reception area have been made from individually hand-poured, board-marked concrete panels, which are also used throughout the building’s circulation spaces and toilets.
The building’s basement contains 360 bicycle parking spaces, along with 35 shower units, that have helped the development achieve a WELL Building Standard rating of Gold.
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