The Architecture of the One New Change in City of London

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“Stealth Fighter” was the visual inspiration for Atelier Jean Nouvel who invited by Land Securities to a limited competition for the redevelop of the One New Change Site. The site is located in a very vital and historic point in London and in the heart of the City of London.

City of London is a unique area leading London economics by giving work to more than 370.000 people. The 70% of the building in the City of London are Offices for Financial and Business Services. Although the City is a home of about 10.000 residents, a learning center of over 29.000 students, a national center, a house for art and cultural heritage but also a destination for every visitor by giving a high quality of environment through its development.

The One New Change’s location is something very sensitive as the site is lied directly opposite of the St Paul’s Cathedral. A 1950s Portland stone and red brick construction was occupied before the site. The building was designed by Victor Heal and was originally constructed for the Bank of England. Although it had been criticized for being out of date and when they asked to become a listed building it described as "the worst provincialism". Also a letter to the Times signed by many prominent art historians said that it would make "a very bad neighbor for the St Paul’s Cathedral".

In 2003 Land Securities the owner of the site arranged a competition for the redevelop of the One New Change Site. Atelier Jean Nouvel, which supported by Arup, won this competition and the design of the new project started in serious in 2004.

The new design of the One New Change is situated to the east of St Paul's Cathedral and it is bounded by Cheapside to the north, Bread Street to the east, New change to the west and Watling Street to the south of the Site.

The proposed scheme of the new building is a new mixed-use development with retail and offices. The new development design embodies the principles of high quality design, that attract the people to a well-designed and sustainable place where could work and relax.

A new 6 storeys building with more than 20 000 m2 retail place, shops and associated facilities designed at the basement, ground and first floor levels and with more than 30 000m2 floors of offices above up to approximately 51.80m height. Also on the top restaurant, café, bar and open public space designed carefully for the roof level.

The new retail shops open seven days a week giving life to the City of London as during the weekend the most of the shops are close. Also it offers a shelter space for the tourists who visit the City of London, as it is located between the St Paul’s Cathedral, Tate modern, the Millennium Bridge, the Barbican and Bank. As the building was criticized during the design process that a new shopping mall will build next to the St Paul’s Cathedral; Peter Rees the City’s of London chief planner answered that:

“This isn’t a shopping mall. This is a high street reborn.”

He is right as the new design is location among three alive streets in the hearth of the City of London and the aim of the architect was to create a mixed community of shops, restaurants, cafes, office workers, shoppers and tourists. The design represents the contemporary city center where youth, elderly, workers and families could all share the high quality designs.

In 2003 when Land Securities asked from the Atelier of Jean Nouvel to participate in the limited competition for the redevelop of the One New Change some questions were vital for the design and development of the site:

"The rebuilding of the block bounded by New Change, Cheapside, Bread and Watling Streets must enrich the entire neighborhood. There are questions to answer: how do we complete the existing system of shopping streets? How do we build next to St. Paul’s Cathedral In a way that pays homage and is in dialogue? How do we create a roof landscape, worthy of being viewed from the Dome, an attractive, sober, roof landscape that is "in its place" in harmony with the surrounding rooftops?”

The location of the site is so important as the site is situated just 60m to the east of the St Paul’s Cathedral so some issues took into account during the concept and develop design. One of the vital and big issue was the “St Paul’s Heights” and protected view regulation. The new design respect the regulations for the “St Paul’s Heights” and protected view and a new 6 storeys building approximately 51.80m height that it is only the one third of the Cathedral height, It is proposed and designed carefully for the One New Change Site.

In response to growing concern that important views of the Cathedral would be obscured by the lofty structures being erected in the vicinity.”

The final proposed design creates two pedestrian alleyways in between the new building. These pedestrian alleyways are mainly linking Cheapside with Watling Street and Bread Street with New Change; with the New Change being open to the sky. The two alleyways meet in the center of the building, creating a central point to the dome of the St Paul’s Cathedral. The shops and offices are organized around, where a lift gives to the public a panoramic access to the roof through the central atrium that is also provides natural light to the office floors.

The Atelier of Jean Nouvel had clever used this regulation of “St Paul’s Heights” to carve an open public roof terrace that gives to the public completely new views of the St Paul’s Cathedral and the City of London. This regulation is well known to anyone involved with any building in the City of London.

However, this regulation is directly related with the requirements of “St Paul’s Depths” as London was an outpost of the Roman Empire and this heritage is protected the underground. In 1935 the Act3 was passed for the protection of the St Paul’s Cathedral, because through the years, some damages had happened to the Cathedral as a result of some foundation movements from different sources. This was legislation in relation to deep groundwork with the “St Paul’s Depths” to protect and safe the fabric of the Cathedral from further damages.

The One New Change needs to follow the regulations of the “St Paul’s Depths” as is located just 60m east of the St Paul’s Cathedral, but when the construction stage started the site was founded in shallow foundations. The basement of the new design had to extend down to the London Clay encroached the legislation and the Act3 about the “St Paul’s Depths”. It was the first time where the excavations in such deep proposed with in the area. So it was really important from the design team and the client to proof that no damage will cause to the Cathedral after the completion of the excavations will have the minimal effect to the Cathedral’s foundation.

After a lot of observations and studies one of the key questions was if there would be any change in the groundwater regime at the Cathedral’s foundations. So a lot of assessments and surveys of ground movement during the excavations and movement monitories took place and finally they proofed that no effects will happened to the Cathedral’s foundation.

However in the stage of the developed design a letter from the Prince of Wales to the Land Securities about the design of the new proposed building created a lot of discussions for the design and the materials, that the architect chosen for the building. The Prince made clear to the client that the Atelier Jean Nouvel approached wrong the site and he called for an alternative firm to take over the sensitive site yards of the St Paul’s Cathedral.

The answer from the architect Jean Nouvel was that:

“What you regulate is what you get.”