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Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners

“The three bay plan form of the proposal creates an elegant building with interesting roof profile which breaks up the existing ‘wall like development’ and provides a successful integrated public space.”

Lambeth council planning officer

Located on the Albert Embankment of London’s River Thames, opposite the Tate Britain and within sight of the Houses of Parliament, Merano offers a high quality, mixed-use development, including apartments, offices and a café. The three stepped bays that make up the building are in contrast to the existing monotonous ‘wall’ of dilapidated developments that occupy this area.

At the base of the building, a four-storey public space offers access through to Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens via Tinworth Street and to a café at ground floor level. The height of this public space echoes that of the neighbouring Rose pub a local landmark and part of the Albert Embankment conservation area. The design has a strong visual presence along the riverfront and acts as a gateway to east Lambeth as well as a natural gathering space overlooking Albert Embankment Gardens.

The east–west orientation of the site dictated the layout of the apartments. By placing the vertical circulation core in the centre of the eastern elevation, bedrooms and winter gardens can be placed either side of it to benefit from morning sunlight and living spaces, on the western side of the building, can enjoy views of the river and sunsets in the evening. The different uses of space within the building are arranged vertically: commercial office spaces occupy the three floors above the café and public piazza and 46 dwellings (a mix of private and affordable units) take up the upper levels.

The structure of the building is a simple concrete frame with steel bracing used to provide stability. This allows for the east and west façades to be primarily glass, creating a lightweight, transparent envelope, and enables open and flexible floor plates. Balconies and winter gardens are formed of a lightweight steel structure with colour applied to the soffits and flank walls, which brighten the exterior in contrast to the building’s monochromatic surroundings.

The design has evolved through an analysis of the immediate and wider site context and seeks to contribute to the streetscape and skyline of the Albert Embankment in terms of height, scale and urban grain. The building is divided into three stepping bays, the tallest being 28 storeys and the lowest 14 storeys, which break down the mass of the scheme.

At the base of the building, a four-storey public space will be created offering a café and access through to Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens via Tinworth Street. The ceiling of this public space is on par with the neighbouring Rose pub which is part of the Albert Embankment conservation area. This project will create a strong visual presence along the riverfront and act as a gateway to east Lambeth as well as a gathering space, overlooking Albert Embankment Gardens. This space will become a focus for both the general public and building occupants, whether they are residents, workers or simply passers by stopping to use the cafe.

Three storeys of commercial office space are located above the cafe, with 46 dwellings above. In plan, the design is broken into three bays, with the building’s footprint reducing by one bay every seven storeys. This results in domestic scale apartments, ranging from single aspect one bedroom apartments at the lower levels, to duplex and triplex apartments on the upper levels.

Sean Ellis, Chairman for St James said “Following the success of working with Graham Stirk and his team at Rogers Stirk Harbour and Partners on Riverlight we were delighted to work with them again on another exciting and challenging project. We are now preparing to start on site in summer 2013 to deliver what will be a truly striking and exclusive development which will provide a catalyst for the regeneration of the Albert Embankment."

All apartments will greatly benefit from the east-west orientation of the site. The vertical circulation core is placed on the eastern elevation, allowing bedrooms and winter gardens to be placed on the eastern side so that they can appreciate the morning sun and living spaces to be positioned on the western side of the building where they can enjoy views out to the river and sunsets in the evening. The different uses of space within the building are arranged vertically, with commercial office spaces occupying the three floors above the café and public piazza and 46 dwellings taking up the upper levels, consisting of a mixture of private and affordable units.

The structure of the building is a simple concrete frame with steel bracing used to provide stability. This allows for the east and west facades to be primarily glass – creating a lightweight, transparent envelope – and enables open and flexible floor plates. Balconies and winter gardens are formed of a lightweight steel structure with colour applied to the undersides, to enliven the exterior in contrast to the building’s monochromatic surroundings.

DC CABE responded to the designs positively saying: “The decision to pursue a tripartite plan for the tower is an astute move; this simple idea enables the building to make the most out of a constrained site for the benefit of the building’s occupants and the wider public. We think the success of this strategy is mirrored in the stepping form of the tower to respond to the heights of adjacent buildings and strategic London views. The two come together to produce a well-proportioned building of pleasing dimensions.” Lambeth Council voted unanimously in August 2012 to grant the project planning consent.

“The three bay plan form of the proposal creates an elegant building with interesting roof profile which breaks up the existing ‘wall like development’ and provides a successful integrated public space.”

Lambeth council planning officer

Located on the Albert Embankment of London’s River Thames, opposite the Tate Britain and within sight of the Houses of Parliament, Merano offers a high quality, mixed-use development, including apartments, offices and a café. The three stepped bays that make up the building are in contrast to the existing monotonous ‘wall’ of dilapidated developments that occupy this area.

At the base of the building, a four-storey public space offers access through to Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens via Tinworth Street and to a café at ground floor level. The height of this public space echoes that of the neighbouring Rose pub a local landmark and part of the Albert Embankment conservation area. The design has a strong visual presence along the riverfront and acts as a gateway to east Lambeth as well as a natural gathering space overlooking Albert Embankment Gardens.

The east–west orientation of the site dictated the layout of the apartments. By placing the vertical circulation core in the centre of the eastern elevation, bedrooms and winter gardens can be placed either side of it to benefit from morning sunlight and living spaces, on the western side of the building, can enjoy views of the river and sunsets in the evening. The different uses of space within the building are arranged vertically: commercial office spaces occupy the three floors above the café and public piazza and 46 dwellings (a mix of private and affordable units) take up the upper levels.

The structure of the building is a simple concrete frame with steel bracing used to provide stability. This allows for the east and west façades to be primarily glass, creating a lightweight, transparent envelope, and enables open and flexible floor plates. Balconies and winter gardens are formed of a lightweight steel structure with colour applied to the soffits and flank walls, which brighten the exterior in contrast to the building’s monochromatic surroundings.

Key Facts

Show Team

Team

John Dent
Tobi Frenzen
Gianmaria Giovanni
Toby Jeavons

Anja Kempa
Stephen Light
Richard Rogers
Annabel Rootes

Graham Stirk
Andrew Yek

Hide Team

Date
2011-ongoing

Client
St James Group Limited

Architect
Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners

Location
London, UK

Height
85 m

Floors
28

Gross Floor Area
7 100 m²

Co-Architect
EPR

Structural Engineer
Ramboll

Landscape Architect
Gillespies LLP