88 Wood Street
One element above all others characterises the design of Wood Street. Ultra-clear, low-iron glazing has been used for almost all of the buildings many facades. The glass, called Diamant Extra White Glass has an extraordinary level of transparency compared to standard clear glass. Despite its surprising lack of presence, the glass acts as a robust protective covering for the whole building. Individual components such as lift shafts and staircases are able to be expressed to architectural advantage without compromising the ability of the facade to protect the interior and the inhabitants from the weather.
The stairs and the panoramic lifts are exposed to view, behind frameless glazing offering spectacular views as they travel up and down the exterior of the building. The lift lobbies on each floor end in full height, single panes of nearly invisible glass that has the effect of turning the lobbies into outdoor terraces with views overlooking the Barbican and the London skyline beyond.
Glass is also used to great effect on the office floors where three metre wide triple-glazed windows allow views across the capital on three sides stretching from St Paul's cathedral in the west to Canary Wharf in the east.
The glazing system to the office floors also functions as a highly effective environmental control system. The building's main contribution to environmental efficiency lies in the use of internal blinds, integrated into the glazing system and controlled by photo-cells that automatically adjust the blind settings (fully closed, fully open or half open) and ensure both effective climate control and a neat and uniform external appearance. There is no manual override. The cavity housing the blinds is also used to extract unwanted solar gain in hot weather, drawing it into the ceiling and expelling it.
The site lies at the heart of the City of London, between St Paul's Cathedral and Moorgate and was subject to complex planning negotiations with the Corporation of London. The building rises in three linked steps of 10, 14 and 18 storeys, responding to the geometries of the site: at its highest it complements the buildings lining London Wall, while the lowest block is sympathetic to the scale of the Wren tower in Wood Street.
The form of the building is in direct response to the need to protect the existing public realm, including the open spaces of the two churchyards (St Olaves and St Mary's) as well as a number of sensitive historic buildings adjacent to the site. The three block massing solution responds directly to the existing street pattern and the various heights of buildings in the immediate locality.
The sophisticated glazing system allows maximum daylight penetration to all floors, and incorporates integral internal blinds, remotely controlled to protect the building from unwanted solar gain and glare.
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