Behind the Scenes at One Fen Court
Monday, 30 September 2019
One Fen Court is a new building located in the heart of the City of London designed by Eric Parry Architect (EPA) and owned by Generali. You’ve probably already seen its colourful iridescent top the peaking put atop the City’s winding streets. We had the rare opportunity to hear from most of the project team, in addition to EPA and Generali, occupier and end user, M&G Investments and Interior Designers, tp bennett presented. The presentations were followed by a tour of M&G’s office spaces.
Philip Vaughan, Director of Development noted that M&G, occupier since November 2018, wanted to create a destination for their business and were attracted by the prime location and opportunity to occupy a landmark building. They have a dedicated entrance at 10 Fenchurch Street which brings visitors into a grand entrance lobby leading to the lifts and up to the company’s auditorium, where the evening’s presentation was hosted. Interior designers, tp bennett were able to translate the company’s ambitious vision into reality, providing an agile workplace supplemented with a variety of support spaces to suit the diversity of departments within the business.
Tina Palliet, Head of Projects Development at Generali, spoke of the challenges that the team faced which started with the complexity of 7 different land ownerships on the site and an extensive archaeological excavation. The project offers a net lettable office area of 38,000sm over 13 floors and has six retail units. The project’s crowning glory is the City’s largest public roof garden with a 360 degree view. The restaurant on the 14th floor should be open by the end of the year, so keep it on your radar! The project had received numerous accolades even before completion and was awarded BREEAM Excellent. The focal point of the public passage through the building is a large LED screen, also signifying entry to the roof garden. Currently on display is ‘Botanic’ by Jennifer Steinkamp, part of Sculpture in the City, a flowing digital floral composition.
Eric Parry, Founder and Principal at EPA, described the building design process and aspirations for the project. From the onset of the project the planners wanted the building to be a city block building, not a tower. EPA created porosity through the block with a public passage. In elevation the building is organised in a tripartite manner with a base, middle and top. The loggia at its base, signifies entry and retail, the centre is the main office space, which creates a neutral backdrop to the Crown, a sculptural form lined with dichroic film, the site of which can brighten even the darkest of days! The office space is column-free with the structure integrated in the perimeter façade.
Richard Beastall, Principal Director at tp bennett, described how they embraced M&G’s aspirations within their design. They tied together a flexible working environment, a staff restaurant, a signature double height arrival space and executive floor, by using a central organising circulation spine throughout the fitout. This spine is well-used and creates a buzz, one of the many spaces which encourages staff interaction. The primary neutral palette uses rich materials which can be seen in the main reception, so take a peek! In contrast the variety of meeting and touchdown spaces have been thoughtfully curated and using exciting furniture selection and an array of colours throughout, creating a variety of collaborative workspaces.
The success of the project is a credit to the collaboration of a talented and progressive team, and a brave client!
Words and images: Etain Fitzpatrick
City Architecture Forum member,
John Robertson Architects