GPW: Allen & Overy LLP HQ, Bishops Square

July 17, 2011 at 5:58 pm

Greenroofs.com Project of the Week: 7/11/11
Allen & Overy LLP HQ, Bishops Square
London, England, UK
58,125 sf. Greenroof

Year: 2005
Owner: Allen & Overy
Location: London, England, UK
Building Type: Multi-Use
Type: Extensive & Intensive
System: Single Source Provider
Size: 58,125  sq.ft.  
Slope: 1%
Access: Accessible, Private

Project Description & Details

The new headquarters for Allen &  Overy steps back from Bishops Square in a series of green tiers, with roof gardens overlooking the plaza below. The building was commissioned by Allen & Overy to meet the needs of a modern international law firm with strong environmental objectives in mind, serving both retail and office use. Located in the historically sensitive area of Spitalfields, it completes the regeneration programme of this important neighbourhood bridging the City and the East End.

The headquarters encompasses three landscaped greenroof terraces, and a fourth terrace is covered with photovoltaic cells to capture the power of the sun and reduce the energy take of the building. These open green spaces on private terraces provide an area where staff can relax and also help to reduce urban heating. Alumasc ZinCo green roof components were used as part of the key specifications, including FD 40 Floradrain ® water storage and drainage board as well as specialist substrates which support a large number of grasses, shrubs, and flowering perennials including turf, lavender, heather, iris, sedum, and boxwood.

Designers/Manufacturers of Record

Project Architect: Foster + Partners
Developer: Hammerson Plc, Corporation of London
Planning Authority: Tower Hamlets
Landscape Architect/Sub Consultant: Townshend Landscape Architects
Contractor: Willerby Landscapes
Greenroof Supplier: Alumasc Exterior Building Products
Greenroof System: ZinCo
Waterproofing: Hydrotech Structural Waterproofing


Additional Info

Commencing construction in 2001, the the state-of-the-art building was designed and built specifically for Allen & Overy by leading architects Foster+Partners and  was  finished in 2005.  Their driver for the greenroofs was twofold: they wanted to improve the biodiversity of this highly built up area of London and also wanted to create an outdoor garden type of area for staff to have their lunch, hold meetings and use for client events.

“Bishops Square development provides a major new public space for London larger than the Piazza at Covent Garden. It completes the regeneration programme of this historically important neighbourhood bridging the City and the East End.  Comprising 4 acres of landscaped civic space, a new covered market area, 40,000 sq ft of retail space and 774,000 sq ft of high spec offices, the scheme extends the original wholesale fruit and vegetable market to create a new urban destination with an eclectic mix of offices, residential buildings, shops and a network of pedestrian routes and plazas.” ~  Foster+Partners case study

Foster+Partners also says that the building incorporates the largest commercial photovoltaic installation in Europe and will produce enough energy to power the landscape lighting across the site – I don’t know if this fact still holds true, but it does have a large and rather impressive solar array.  The main roof has about 580m2 photovoltaic cells generating around 50,000kWh per year and the Allen & Overy’s website says the solar array saves 23 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

“We are proud to have been awarded a rating of ‘Very Good’ by the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM), the world’s leading system for assessing the range of environmental aspects associated with buildings. ” ~  Allen & Overy’s website

The Allen & Overy HQ greenroof  is not only ecologically sensitive, but designed in an elegantly linear fashion.  The private terraces are used often, not only by the employees but also to entertain special gatherings.  Their office brochure states “One of the best features of Bishops Square is the ability to hold barbecues in the summer or evening drinks on the terrace.”

In fact, the  prestigious  offices of Allen & Overy has hosted both the 2010 and 2008 World Green Roof Congresses.  Aramis and I were lucky to have attended the 2008 World Green Roof Congress here put on by Dusty Gedge of Livingroofs.org and CIRIA, with support from the European Federation of Green Buildings, so we can attest to the beauty of the spaces and the hospitality of the greenspace; the views were pretty spectacular, too!  You can read a little about it here.

The open space is extremely inviting: built in benches provide comfortable seating, tall grasses sway gracefully in the wind here and the flowering perennials provide color and structure throughout the seasons.  Granted the bright green grass needs higher maintenance than the other plants, but it does provide nice contrast and the turf is used by many.

The reflective windows of the building present an ever changing London cityscape scenery to visitors – I took this photo in September, 2008 where you can see the iconic Swiss Re Headquarters at 30 St Mary Axe, popularly known as the Gherkin, also designed by Foster+Partners:

The Allen & Overy HQ greenroof offers something that many extensive living roofs unfortunately do not – highly valuable and sought after  amenity  space.  Structural issues aside, it would be awesome if we could have more intensive greenroofs out there to not only provide a cool respite to our animal friends but also to help sooth the human beast in all of us after a long hard day at work!

Did we miss something?  We’d love to hear from you!  Click  here to see more information about this project in  The International Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database.  See how you can submit yours  here.

Love the Earth, Plant a Roof!

~ Linda V.