Following a design competition in 2011, WilkinsonEyre was appointed for the redevelopment of the former River Plate House in Finsbury Circus. Working to the client’s overall vision for an ‘exemplary’ new office building for this historic City site adjacent to the listed Britannic House by Edwin Lutyens, with access from both Finsbury Circus and South Place. The new building provides 15,000m² of grade A, flexible office space with ground floor retail.
The redevelopment includes the construction of new contemporary Portland Stone and bronze façades and the retention of a portion of the north façade dating from the 1920s. Juliet balconies and dormer windows within the mansard with their crisp, frameless glazing continue the theme of traditional elements given a modern twist. Castings from the building’s original railings have been retained and embodied into the walls of the entrance.
The building is configured around a central core, providing large column free office space at all levels. A sculptural main circulation stair has been positioned with good visibility from the core to encourage use of the stair between floors. Within the impressive reception a traditional palette of stone, bronze and walnut is imaginatively detailed to provide an uplifting environment for the occupiers. The lift shafts, in translucent glazing, provide both a source of light and movement, with the lift cars casting shadows as they rise and descend. WilkinsonEyre has designed two walnut veneered sculptures which act as focal points within the large space and provide a place to sit.
A walnut clad recess in the curved stone wall on the east side of the reception houses a sleek reception desk and provides views into the lower levels of the lightwell. The lightwell brings daylight down through the building and provides a visible connection between floors. An art installation by Carpenter Lowings, commissioned for the project, runs the full height of the lightwell. The dynamic piece, composed of folded stainless steel panels, was developed in response to a brief prepared by WilkinsonEyre that sought both a focal point and device to introduce reflected light into the depth of the building.