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Ropemaker, The City of London

Creating gardens in a City of London development

Ropemaker Place builds on British Land’s and Arup’s ethos of sustainable design and the importance of technical and spatial flexibility for modern office buildings. The 21-storey building incorporates a total of 55,000m² net of office, including two designated trading floors, 1270m² of retail facilities, and over 1850m² of roof garden terraces.  

The new highly sustainable building, was completed within a three-year period from the initial acquisition of the land.  It was designed to allow for large continuous floors with spacious open aspects and, a legible circulation and views over the City of London and Islington, providing a working environment of the highest quality and a desirable place to work. The project was Winner of the 2009 British Construction Industry Award, Major Projects Award.

British Land allocated the design and construction to only two organizations: Arup as architect, structural, and building services designer with specialist acoustics, communications and façade engineering; and Mace as project manager, construction manager, and cost consultant (with their in-house quantity surveyor, sense). This close collaboration of integrated teams has been an undoubted success for the client.

Project Summary

1850 Roof terraces

3years from land acquisition to completion

33%Carbon reduction on building regulations

A tour de force of high quality design, innovative construction and super energy credentials puts Ropemaker Place at the forefront of urban office building for the future ” British Construction Industry Awards Ropemaker Place, Winner of the Major Project Award

Chinese puzzle

Ropemaker Place was considered not an “object” building but one that would be observed as a series of glimpses from the surrounding streets, a “good neighbour” to its setting. Conceived as a simplified Chinese puzzle, the building is composed of six large-scale interlocking cubic forms, rising up as a series of garden terraces. The architectural massing reflects the larger City scale towards City Point Tower and Moorgate, whilst respecting the smaller scale of the Islington borders. Although this overall form broke the existing consent planning envelope, it was supported by the planning authority as when viewed within the local and broader context it provided obvious townscape advantages. 

View of Ropemaker Place View of Ropemaker Place

Projecting windows

The façade design exemplifies the integration of architectural treatment with environmental performance: a bespoke system of unitised 1.5m wide modular cladding, designed as a series of storey-height insulated cassettes with projecting and tilting vision panels where required, the combination of which reduces the average annual energy consumption for cooling by up to 27% compared to a flat façade. The cladding system was installed from the individual floors using sophisticated mechanical manipulators, and without expensive and time-consuming tower cranes.


Arup’s integrated design approach delivered a building that is BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rated satisfying the entire heating and hot water demand through the use of passive design and renewable energy systems and offering an array of other sustainable technical features. The building additionally achieved LEED core and shell pre-certification ‘Platinum’ level, the first office building in London to achieve this.

Structural engineering process

The design of the structure played a major role in the success of bringing value and sustainability to the project. The site had a previous planning permission and an extensive combination of existing 1950’s and overlayed 1980’s concrete foundations left in place. The design team needed to overcome the difficulties and start digging the major new basement excavation before the new design was fully known or the new Planning Consent could be gained. 

A basement design and overall construction strategy was devised whereby a supplementary permission for the basement could be agreed within the existing Consent, and allow enabling works to start on site. This allowed time for the new Planning Approval Process, and the design and award of sequential works packages to maintain the required construction timescale. In total, 15% of the footprint of the new building is founded on existing foundations.

Watch the video about this highly sustainable building. Credit: Tapio Snellman
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We are pleased to have reached this important milestone on time and on budget. With Ropemaker we will be delivering our most sustainable development yet in the City. Its ability to help occupiers reduce both operational costs and their environmental impact is combined with a great range of floor plates and a high level of specification to meet operational needs. The roof terrace gardens are of a scale and quality unparalleled in the City and are a wonderful feature for occupiers ” Paul Burgess Head of London Leasing at British Land

The garden terraces

Five ascending landscaped garden terraces cover the majority of the available roof, providing a balance between public amenity for the building’s occupants and as a bio-diverse habitat. The designation of the terraces as usable green roofs consigned all services plant to the basement levels and a roof plant enclosure above the ultimate floor. Still rare in City architecture, these spaces support Arup’s interest in the greening of buildings and their associated social, environmental and biological advantages. Planting was selected to reflect the changing seasons and included native and non-native species.