London’s tallest residential tower rises out of the ground / by rachel

London’s tallest residential-only tower has started to rise out of the ground on the banks of the River Thames in London’s Vauxhall district. ‘The Tower, One St George Wharf’ has been designed by international architecture practice Broadway Malyan, is being developed by St George South London and the shell and core element is being built by contractor Brookfield Multiplex. Completion is anticipated from Winter 2013, and the 320,000 sq ft, residential tower will stand at just over 180 metres, making it one of Europe’s tallest wholly residential buildings. It will provide 223 luxury apartments over 50 floors and will create a distinctive architectural addition to London’s skyline.

Peter Crossley, Director at architect Broadway Malyan, said: “The Tower is an elegant and timelessly classic piece of design. It is exceptionally sustainable and will act as a catalyst to regeneration in the surrounding neighbourhood. We expect that it will quickly become a familiar and friendly landmark to Londoners and visitors alike, following in the footsteps of other buildings of similar scale and mass.

“Our detailed studies have shown that this is the right building for this location and, due to its small footprint and visually subtle circular plan form, The Tower will have exceptionally slender pencil-like proportions when viewed from any direction.’’

The building is located on a sharp bend on the south bank of the River Thames and will therefore be perceived as an important marker at the focal point of the long views down the river in much the same way as an eye catcher or obelisk in a classic landscape composition.

It will thus make an enriching contribution to the urban landscape of the city and give a new focus in the views to the south west away from the City. When viewed from further up river to the west, 'The Tower' will mark the turn in the river as it flows towards Westminster.

The Tower is set to be a highly sustainable catalyst for regeneration in Vauxhall and the Nine Elms corridor. It will signal the gateway to the Nine Elms regeneration corridor, a huge area of change which is destined to become the future home of the US embassy, New Covent Garden Market and Battersea Power Station projects, as well as to an emerging cluster of other buildings of height which will potentially transform the area. It is located in one of the most sustainable locations in London where five forms of transport all interchange at Vauxhall Cross (tube, rail, bus, road and, potentially, river).

The building’s exceptional quality, commercial success and profile will have a positive impact on the perception and visibility of the Vauxhall area; highlight the changes and investment being made in the locality, and act as a catalyst for the further regeneration projects. The circular form and floor to ceiling glazing means that the resident’s and users of the building will enjoy stunning 360-degree views over the capital making it one of the most desirable emerging residential addresses in the capital.

The building’s form is deceptively simple. The unique floor plan of 'The Tower', inspired by the form of a turning Catherine wheel, is typically divided into five apartments per floor with separating walls radiating out from the central core. Sky gardens which provide residents with protected semi external space step forward from the pure circular plan creating steps in the façade that will accentuate the building’s verticality and provide variety and interest to the detailing of the building’s refined, clean, minimalist look.

The façade will reduce in diameter on upper floor levels to further articulate the building form and provide spectacular 360 degree terraces which lead the eye to the sculptural wind turbine that crowns the structure and resolves the way it touches the sky.

Pioneering green and sustainable technologies showcase the design team and developer’s commitment to sustainable development by reducing the building’s environmental impact. Despite its glassy appearance, 'The Tower' will require only one third of the gas or electrical energy for heating, cooling, lighting and ventilation than that of a conventional tall building, with consequent reductions in CO2 over its life span. Energy savings will be made using a sophisticated, triple glazed façade with interstitial blinds, low ‘e’ coating and sky gardens that will act as a thermal buffer and opening windows which provide habitable rooms with fresh air to lessen resident’s reliance on air conditioning. Much of the building's energy savings will be obtained from renewable sources. A ten metre high, vertical axis wind turbine at the top of the tower will generate an estimated 20,000kWh of energy per year, sufficient to power lighting in all the common parts of the tower. The building will also draw water from London’s aquifer deep below ground and utilise ‘heat exchange technology’ for heating and cooling the building.

The residences are being successfully marketed globally, reinforcing London’s position as a world leader in high end residential property.  Internally, every apartment has been designed with exceptional attention to detail and with a level of specification which will satisfy the most discerning of the world’s rich list.

The lower floors of 'The Tower' will house the concierge-manned reception, a business lounge, screening room and a resident’s gym and spa with thermal treatment zone and a swimming pool overlooking the River Thames. These facilities will be managed by the renowned Harrods Estates Asset Management team.

The landscape setting around 'The Tower' has been designed to complement the building’s geometry and will stretch out to the River Thames across the publicly accessible riverside path that extends into the neighbouring Boroughs. Contemporary water features, granite walls, hardwood benching, planting and lighting all radiate out from the building’s façade and have been carefully designed to control the wind environment at the base of this tall structure.

The main project team for 'The Tower' comprises Broadway Malyan (Architecture, Apartment Interior Design, Implementation Architect and Landscape Architect), WYG / Robert Bird Group (Structural Engineers), Grontmij (MEP & VT Engineers), Laing O’Rourke (Substructure), Brookfield Multiplex (Shell & Core) and St George (Fit Out).

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