Plantation Place; Plantation Place;

Plantation Place, City of London

Art, architecture and urban design embeds the building into the grain of the ancient city

Plantation Place is one of the largest new projects in the heart of the City of London. Comprising almost an entire block, the 1ha site is bounded by Fenchurch Street (north), Mincing Lane (east), Rood Lane (west) and Eastcheap/Great Tower Street (south). 

The development comprises two buildings: the larger, itself known as Plantation Place, and built along Fenchurch Street, has 15 storeys plus three basement levels, giving a total of 78 300m2 gross internal area above ground, including 2300m2 of net retail at ground level. It has various floor plate sizes and uses; levels 2 and 3 may be fitted out as trading floors providing 4900m2 net of contiguous office area on each floor. The second building, Plantation Place South, is 10 storeys high and provides some 22 500m2 gross internal area. Christopher Wren’s grade 1 listed church of St Margaret Pattens occupies the south-west corner, together with an 18th century town house now used as an office. Another office building, 51 Eastcheap, remains on this part of the site, adjacent to the church.

Project Summary

2.5acre City block

43m2High central atrium

360 °Promenade around the building at level 10 (from the garden terrace)

The external form

The overall architectural form was developed in response to the site's complex constraints, but also conceived as a positive contribution to the civic realm in this part of the City. Through a series of adjustments in plan, angled cuts and set-backs, the building transforms itself from the street-defining base and reinvents and fragments its form as it ascends, culminating in a pair of glass cube forms in the skyline.

The resulting composition, while accommodating the very considerable programme, disseminates its volume into its immediate surroundings. It is seen from the surrounding streets not as a single object but a series of vignettes.

The stratification of the building vertically, into street architecture below and deep setback terraces of smaller office floors above, suggests two facade types and provides the opportunity for opening windows for fresh air and garden terraces at the upper levels.

The Internal Anatomy

The building includes a pair of Jura limestone-clad towers framing the glass entrance and a Jura limestone staircase to a 43m high central atrium. A dematerialised glass bridge connects together the first floor levels and provides a dramatic threshold before entering the atrium interior. The offices are on either side of the atrium, with two cores to each side containing lifts that serve all floors. The cores also contain services risers, staircases and washrooms, and allow easy access to all parts. In section the atrium is stepped towards the south on the upper levels, bringing daylight and sunlight deep into the lower level. This configuration provides a more usable contiguous floor plate arrangement at the upper levels; the atrium forms the centre of a U-shaped office floor at levels 7 to 9 and is bridged over completely at levels 10 to 14. 

The Garden Terraces

A south-facing winter garden on the floor of the upper atrium has direct access to the outside garden terrace. As the building steps back, other terraces are formed, culminating in the main large garden terrace at level 10 with direct access for occupiers. The garden was designed as a series of arboreal chambers of soft and hard landscape linked to a main pedestrian route around the building perimeter, giving occupiers a sheltered, private and attractive amenity. 

Plantation Place is one of the most important new developments in the City of London in recent years. It is a fine piece of contemporary architecture designed by Arup Associates that sits comfortably in its environment. Its scale reflects that of the surrounding streets: the stone fins of yet facades relate elegantly to the more traditional architecture of the City. Yet the glass towers that rise some 14 floors appear transparent against the sky. ” Sir John Ritblat Ex-Chairman of British Land

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'Time and Tide' artwork: Plantation Lane

The development also incorporates a new pedestrian route, Plantation Lane, which cuts east­ west from Wren's church to Mincing Lane. The creation of this route - a combination of art, architecture and urban design - embeds the new building into the grain of the ancient city and enhances the urban context. One side is marked by an integrated artwork ‘Time and Tide’, designed by Arup’s architects in collaboration with artist Simon Patterson, depicting the surface of the moon, while the natural stone pavement is inscribed with text. 

This newly-created route acknowledges the City of London's rich historic fabric, reflecting the medieval street pattern.