The Palestra designed by ALSOP is located in London, United Kingdom. The 295,000 sq ft (net internal area) / 405,000 (gross internal area) speculative development for Blackfriars Investments Limited and Royal London Asset Management is located on Blackfriars Road directly opposite the new Southwark underground station. The building’s bold architecture is seen as an expression of the developer’s confidence in both the scheme itself and in the South central market as an important new business location in central London.
With large, virtually column-free, flexible floor plates capable of subdivision, the building provides twelve floors of high quality contemporary commercial office space in a distinctive building in an acknowledged emerging business location. The ground floor retail and 5th and 6th floors were pre-let to The London Development Agency twelve months prior to the building’s completion and were occupied in September 2006. The remainder of the building was occupied by Transport for London at the end of 2007.
With its use of colour, retail pod at ground floor and distinctive floating block design, the Palestra building pioneers a new approach to commercial office design and symbolises a commercial renaissance of London’s south central business district.
The design is characterised by three separate volumes stacked on top of each other to break down the mass of the building and relate it to its surroundings. All three volumes differ in size, proportion, orientation and appearance yet are unified by the same architectural language. The lower tilted ‘ground-scraping’ slab lifts up towards the west cantilevering six meters above the pavement to create a dynamic building entrance and public space.
Visitors approaching the building will enter directly under the inclined soffit into an attractive reception complete with art wall, coloured glass cladding to stair core and a specially designed tilted reception desk. A key feature of the ground floor is the extraordinary pod shaped retail unit that has been let by the London Development Agency for public exhibition space. Lift lobbies adjacent to reception provide ready access to the eleven (twelve floors include the ground floor) upper office floors.
The building is clad in a glazed curtain walling system treated with a random pattern of coloured ceramic frit and solid panels to achieve a patchwork effect of colour giving scale and texture to the facade.