Grand Union Building

Grand Union Building - Concept

The proposal reconciles the conflicting street geometries by placing a series of six rectilinear floorplates (served areas) separated by service cores (servant areas). By slipping the blocks in a staggered arrangement, the building acknowledges both the Marylebone grid and the presence of the adjacent motorway, without creating an unrelenting wall. The floors are conceived as two sets of three rectilinear plates that act as medium sized floors in separate buildings or linked via an atrium to create a much larger unified area. This provides maximum flexibility as the floors can be let to a single tenant, or divided into up to six smaller tenancies.

Three residential buildings to the east relate to the commercial building in form, and continue the staggered geometry. These offer market residential apartments to the south with balconies overlooking the basin and affordable key worker apartments to the north. The buildings are separated by lift and stair cores which provide independent access while integrating both types of housing within the unified whole.

In the commercial building, the skyline composition offsets the larger floor-plates at lower levels with light transparent vertical elements such as stairs, lifts and risers.

These elements create focus, drama and legibility, as well as a clear sense of hierarchy. Mechanical equipment has been located either in the basement areas or on-floor, leaving only heat rejection plant and window cleaning equipment at roof level. Planted terraces on every roof provide a series of elevated gardens for the occupiers of both residential and commercial buildings.

The scheme’s detailing, scale and massing respond sensitively to the immediate urban context. The building steps up at intervals to reduce the impact of buildings to the basin edge, acknowledge the intermediate height of the adjacent hotel and progressing up to the north-western edge of the site. By locating the highest part of the development close to the northern edge of the site, the impact of shadows cast is minimised. In addition, the tallest part of the scheme screens out the traffic pollution generated by the A40M, one of London’s major arterial routes.

Each floor can be let as one large space for a single tenant or up to six separate tenancies, allowing for maximum flexibility for future letting strategies. The building can also be split vertically to accommodate any combination of floor configurations without compromising essential servicing.

Service cores are architecturally expressed as towers, and located at either end of the links of the occupied floor plates. The glazed passenger lifts with exposed blue-pained steelwork are located on the north and south elevations and provide a dynamic aspect to the facade.

The design for the Grand Union Building forms part of an overall masterplan for 10 acres of largely vacant and underused land to the north of Paddington Basin, which terminates the Grand Union Canal. Designed as a defining symbol and marker for the whole 80-acre Paddington Regeneration Area, the Grand Union Building is intended to be a pre-eminent example of high-density brownfield development.