City of London Building of the Year Award

The WCCA are pleased to celebrate the contribution architecture brings to the civic life of the City of London.

The Award is recognition by the Company of the innovative design opportunities and solutions created in response to the heritage of the City of London, conservation area constraints and emerging context of new architecture. The award seeks to recognise the contribution made to placemaking in the City, the quality of the architectural endeavour as well as the environmental standards achieved.

Annie Hampson OBE, Chief Planning Officer and Development Director of the Department of the Built Environment, City of London, proposes and long list of projects that are shortlisted by the Jury for visits.

All Shortlisted projects are visited by a Jury that includes The Master, The Sponsors and two other Architects Livery Members.

The City of London Building of the Year Award is presented at the Election Court dinner in July each year.

Other special awards may be awarded at the discretion of the Jury. In previous years this has included Best New Build and Best Refurbishment as well as other special awards for fellow Livery Companies for their contribution to architecture within the City.

Building of the Year 2019

This year’s judging took place on Friday 14 June 2019, with judges Barry Munday (Master), James Goldsmith (Axa), Nigel Webb (British Land), Victoria Fairhall (Brookfield), Jo Bacon and Chris Williamson (WCCA).

The criteria for judging the WCCA Building of theYear include an assessment of how the Architects, through the completed building, have made a contribution to the civic life of the City of London, whether they have tailored the response to the heritage of the City of London (conservation area constraints and the emerging context), created opportunities for innovative design, delivered an exemplary design solution and achieved high environmental standards.

Four buildings were shortlisted from a longlist provided by Annie Hampson, Chief Planning Officer and Development Director of the City of London.

The WCCA City of the London Building of the Year Awards are supported by:

Building of the Year Winner

Fen Court

Architects: Eric Parry Architects

Developers: Generali Real Estate

The City is a better place because of Fen Court.

It’s distinctive ‘Crown’ uplifts, what is an otherwise repetitive office elevation, and it is well detailed with terra cotta verticals and solar shading providing coloured elements.The use of a pressurised glazing system that projects forward and dichroic ribbons of colour which change with heat from the sun is an innovative solution to animating the roof profile.

The form of the building with the permeability created by the north-south through route and the space given to Fen Court garden creates a generous public realm. The decision to roof the north-south route, (originally planned to be open to the sky) has paid off creating an opportunity for a digital art installation above the central space as an extraordinary display for the City. The jury all wished to spend more time here to meditate on the scenes in motion.

The roof terrace provides an elegant promenade beautifully planted, which will probably become more dramatic as wisteria grows in the years ahead, meandering around the steel structure and embracing it.

The office space is rated BREEAM Excellent and with its mostly column free space, is a very adaptable Grade A space that will be very popular.

The Jury considered this a worthy winner of the WCCA City Building of the Year Award.

Best Refurbishment

Cannon Green

Architects: John Robertson Architects

Developers: Ocubis

John Robertson gave the jury the most spirited presentation, and he had reason to be rightly proud of the dynamic revitalisation of a tired 1960’s ‘rent- slab’ office building.The story of working with Ocubis was terrifically engaging. It was a story of what you can do to re-love a building, spending wisely, being inventive and taking risks.

The project involved refurbishment from start to finish, including all planning requirements whilst keeping some tenants in occupation and took only twenty months.

The significant change to the building has been to create a double height glazed podium wrapping the base of the tower as well as two additional storeys.This has given the building some space of quality with a new reception, a restaurant space, an external terrace, access to the first floor lobby, a grand concrete staircase that doubles as social space and an agora.The orientation of this podium redirects the entrance with bold signage and presence to Cannon Street.

Working to make use of ten foot floor to ceiling heights all ceilings were stripped back to the concrete pot floor construction and then walls and ceilings loosely rendered and painted. On each floor a lowered central spine of services including ventilation leaves the ceiling free for a range of simple industrial light fittings on galvanised conduit.Windows were increased in height by removing a lower transom panel and then new double glazing inserted to floor level even though the windows retained their original external frame. These windows provide improved natural light throughout the building.

Ocubis have instigated a refurbishment that chucks out the norm, has retained more of the old building than would usually be the case and consequently has probably been very sustainable.

We enjoyed our visit and felt it was the best refurbishment of the day and should be celebrated with our WCCA Building Refurbishment of the Year Award.

Runner up

111 Cannon Street

Architects: Fletcher Priest

Developer: London & Oriental

This is a modest development on a small footprint producing well detailed small office suites. It is unusual to find such small scale modern office space in the City. Hence the building is fully let on a floor by floor basis with the top floor benefitting from a board room and roof terrace at roof level.

Each floor was well lit and the location of the core with a glass wall to the staircase offered tenants a range of fit out opportunities.

The architectural treatment is restrained and well proportioned.The Canon Street elevation does also incorporate London Stone, which seemed to have been a challenge of engagement with a huge range of consultees.

Restoring the London Stone, keeping it in the City of London, has been championed by the Worshipful Company of Masons. It is for this challenge we are awarding a WCCA Special Award to them and their supporting team that has included Fletcher Priest, Museum of London as Curators, Museum of London Archaeology and the developers of the building London and Oriental. This is a great contribution to the history and the life of the City.

Runner up

24 King William Street

Architects: Ben Adams Architects

Developer: Beltane Asset Management

The jury felt Ben Adam’s team had resolved an elegant solution to the elevation treatment for the recladding and extension of this building. By incorporating a subtle outward lean of one degree on the lower floors the architects managed to gain some valuable floor area making the project viable.

The glazing treatment at first floor creates picture windows for meeting rooms enlivening the hard street environment below while full height ribbon windows above create naturally well-lit office spaces.

To the back of the site an old churchyard has, through careful negotiations, been turned into a publicly accessible garden at the developer’s own cost.This creates a secret garden and a space for tranquillity in the City accessible to the public from Martin Lane.

Special Award

London Stone

Worshipful Company of Masons

With Museum of London as Curators, Museum of London Archaeology,Fletcher Priest Architects and Developers London & Oriental

An improved setting for the newly restored London Stone, based on historical precedent has required significant commitment from all concerned.

Curator Emeritus John Clark (formerly curator of the Museum of London’s medieval collections) examines the myths and the colourful cast of characters who created them.The full article may be read at https://www.seumoflondon.org.uk/discover/ london-stone-seven-strange-myths

It’s been claimed to be a Druidic altar, a Roman milestone, and the magical ‘heart of London’. It’s one of London’s most ancient landmarks, but most people have never heard of it – or if they have, they’ve heard one of the strange legends that have sprouted up around it.

Myth 1: It has stood in London since prehistoric times

The stone is oolitic limestone, of a type first brought to London for building and sculptural purposes in the Roman period. It originally stood on the medieval Candlewick Street (now Cannon Street) opposite St Swithin’s church.This would have placed it in front of the great Roman building, often identified as the provincial governor’s palace. It has been suggested that the Stone was originally some sort of monument erected in the palace forecourt. Some have described it – without evidence – as being a Roman ‘milliarium’, the central milestone from which distances in the Roman province of Britain were measured.

It also stands at the centre of the grid of new streets laid out after King Alfred re-established London in 886, afterViking attacks had destroyed the original Saxon town.And it must be at this period that it received its singular name – ‘Lundene Stane’ in Old English.

Myth 2: It was an ancient altar used forDruidic sacrifices

John Strype, in his 1720 updated edition of John Stow’s Survey of London, seems to have been the first to offer the proposal that London Stone was ‘an Object, or Monument, of Heathen Worship’ erected by the Druids.Thus, later, London

Stone was to play an important in the works of William Blake, prominent among them being its identification as an altar stone upon which Druids carried out bloody sacrifices.

Myth 3: Medieval kings and queens would visit the Stone to ceremonially take control of London

London Stone entered national history briefly in the summer of 1450, when John or Jack Cade, leader of the Kentish rebellion against the corrupt government of Henry VI, entered London and, striking London Stone with his sword, claimed to be ‘lord of this city’.We know the story best from Shakespeare’s Henry VI Part 2 – this is great theatre but it is also fiction.

Myth 4: London Stone has never been moved from its resting place

The Stone has been surprisingly migratory. It originally stood in Candlewick Street (Cannon Street) facing the door of St Swithin’s church. It seems to have been damaged by the Great Fire of 1666 and by 1720 what was left of the stone was protected by a small stone cupola. In 1742 it was moved within its protective cupola, against the door of the new Wren church of St Swithin.Two further moves, in 1798 and in the 1820s, placed it eventually where it was to remain for more than 100 years, into the church’s south wall.

The Wren church was gutted by bombing in the Second World War, but the walls were left standing and London Stone remained in place until 1960, when it was moved to the then Guildhall Museum.After the demolition of the ruins and the completion of the then new building on the site, in October 1962, the Stone was placed in the specially constructed grilled and glazed alcove in the wall.While the current 111 Cannon Street was under construction London Stone was moved to the care of the Museum of London, restored before being returned to its new enclosure.

Myth 5: If the Stone is moved or destroyed, London will fall

By the end of the 18th century romantic writers were beginning to suggest a relationship between the survival of London Stone and the well-being of London itself.This concept received a great boost from the apparent discovery of an ‘ancient saying’ – ‘So long as the Stone of Brutus is safe, so long will London flourish’.

This notion is rooted in a much older legend that London was first founded by Brutus, leader of a group of Trojan colonists, as Troia Nova.This story derived ultimately from the 12th-century History of the Kings of Britain by Geoffrey of Monmouth, a pseudo-historian and arch-inventor of legends. The author of the Notes and Queries article claims that Brutus had brought the base of the original statue of Pallas Athena from Troy and erected it as an altar in a temple of Diana in ‘New Troy’, and that the ancient kings of Britain had sworn their oaths upon it.

Myth 6: The Stone has been protected by a long line of guardians

A modern myth has arisen that the Lord Mayor of London serves as a ‘guardian of the Stone’. It is an obvious concept, though this does not seem ever to have existed in historical times, nor does the Corporation of the City of London list it as one of the Lord Mayor’s official duties. In fact, until 1972, when London Stone was officially Listed (Grade II*) as a structure of special historic interest, neither the Corporation nor the Lord Mayor seems to have taken any responsibility for the Stone.

Myth 7: London Stone is the magical heart of London

In the late 19th century the folklorist George Laurence Gomme put forward his opinion that London Stone was London’s ‘fetish stone’:‘In early Aryan days, when a village was first established, a stone was set up.To this stone the head man of the village made an offering once a year.’The Lord Mayor was therefore the lineal descendant of the first ‘village head man’ of London.

What can we learn from these myths?

An admission that we don’t know the origin of London Stone (and probably never will) satisfies nobody – hence the apparent desire for a mythology that lends it great antiquity and an even greater symbolic role.

The significance of London Stone, and the importance of taking measures for its preservation, depend not only on its actual age and origins,
but on the reputation it has acquired over the years since.

London Stone is a myth. Go visit!

Student Awards

Annual awards are made to students of Architecture and include:

  • Student Travel Award (Stuart Murphy)
  • Drawing Prize (Jonathan & Victoria Ball)
  • Assael Architecture Award for Tenacity
  • Lawrence King Award
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The WCCA is open to new members, visit our page to find out about how to become a member and the process.

Education

The WCCA supports students throughout their studies including apprentices.

Awards

Our annual Building of the Year awards showcase the best new Architecture in the City. 

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