building’s interiors, as well as providing an inspiring entrance to users as they approach the reception. “Laminated safety glass was used for the atrium and towards the nose of the building the atrium’s corners are curved, allowing the softness of art-deco and art-modern to be played out,” says McRae. Given the combination of No 1’s busy urban location and the wellness requirements of offices, the architects had to design sensitively to shield users from noise, as McRae remarks: “The upper floors have been fitted with new glazing that we specified on the basis of their U-values and acoustics due to the heavily trafficked roads below.” The ground floor retail units are installed with a series of single-glazed panels with curved edges; “we wanted to reinstate the Art Deco style in the shop fronts,” says McRae. Upon examining photographs of Commonwealth House from the 1930s, the architects discovered that the iconic nose of the building originally featured single-glazed curved panes on each floor, which were later replaced by faceted glass in the 1960s. Following Orms’ refurbishment, the glass was again substituted for double-glazed curved panels.

“Because the glass is curved, the two panes have two different radii. There’s a great deal of complexity in making sure that each pane fits within the other,” explains McRae. In order to achieve the horizontal aesthetic of Delafontaine’s 1930s design, spacer bars were fitted within the cavity of the double glazed units, and cosmetic bars were fitted to the outside of the glass to replicate the horizontal window divisions. In the central bay of the New Oxford Street entrance, “there are extremely tight glass corners of around 250 mm – one of the tightest that you can achieve with double glazing,” according to McRae. Through trial and error, Spanish curved glass specialist Cricursa were able to produce the desired curvature, but not without slight distortion of the glass. In discussion with the planners, it was made clear that the curved corners from the original design had to be retained so the architects had to run with the distorted effect on the glazed corners.

Interior qualities Internally, again No 1 nods to the Art Deco and Art Moderne periods. The architects used solus stone for the reception floors and fluted glass – essentially a profiled glass manufactured using original 1920s methods. “It gives a really lovely texture. Rather than being a smooth flat surface, it has a series of

ADF MAY 2019 concaves and shells.”

Other interior materials include brass on the reception desk, and dark stained oak as references in keeping with the Art Deco period. The significant use of black for trims and horizontal features, were inspired more by the Art Moderne movement. “We were using findings from our research into the Moderne and Deco styles to create our new aesthetic,” says McRae. Maximising the building’s sustainability potential was also a priority. Bicycle storage facilities, photovoltaic cells at the top of the building, and a localised air source unit on each floor in each corner of the building – meaning that air can be cooled locally when required, rather than centrally – are some of the features that contribute to No 1’s BREEAM Excellent rating. The attention to detail has already secured the client two key tenants; fashion retailer COS, whose relationship with the scheme began on a prelet basis before its completion, and technology brand Twitch. The office spaces are light and airy, with plenty of flexibility designed in as well as a range of outdoor spaces. Altogether they demonstrate Orms’ sensitivity to the diversity of potential activities and brands that might set up shop at No 1. 


The glazed atrium which works as a light funnel greets users as they enter


Office space is light, airy and flexible Images © Timothy Soar



Architect: Orms Client: Nuveen Real Estate Size: 9,500 m2 Planning consultant: DP9 Structural engineer: AKT II Historic building consultant: Donald Insall


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