The regeneration of Archway has been kick started by the refurbishment and recladding of the former Archway Tower; a notorious 18 storey, 1970s office building. Located above Archway station, the tall, dark edifice dominated the area, and together the failed post war surroundings, empty shops and narrow pedestrian alleys, blighted development for many years. Islington developed a SPD in 2006/7 but as it required holistic development of many ownerships in a low rise form failed to generate interest.
The brief from PRS operator Essential Living called for a rental residential building (sales not being permitted under the LUL freehold) with active and accessible street frontages, entrances, and improved microclimate. Residential use was granted through Permitted Development (as that means was available) and the new façade by a detailed application.
The existing concrete frame is retained and reclad in high performance cladding designed to be erected without scaffolding. The cladding detail design was a direct response to local residents complaints about the dark foreboding nature of the predecessor. So angled, light reflective, panels designed to accommodate existing external structure and natural ventilation openings reflect the south and east light. Big window cills also reflect the sky while discouraging pigeons. The solid end walls, formerly in black concrete, were reclad in light stone with large windows to evidence that the building is occupied.
The recladding was not just a wrap of new material - the carefully detailed façade was erected without scaffolding and reflects the original ‘three slab’ massing and architectural characteristics; like the solid end shear walls. The original architects, Oscar Garry and Partners ( though Gollins Melvin and Ward are also credited ), may have borrowed the technique from the aptly named Dreischeibenhaus in Dusseldorf by Helmut Hubert of approximately 1960.
To overcome the poor public realm and dark and inactive frontages, the developer asked for an enhanced and more visible entrance hall to the corner of the site to enliven the streetscape and help reduce the adverse wind conditions. This was tested and proven to be beneficial to the public realm. The entrance doors were moved from the original undercroft to the back of pavement and a double height glass box has been located to the corner of the street. The latter element deflects the downdraft from the pavement and lights up the pavement and bus stop.
But the greatest change was reserved for the roof top plant room which was to become double height shared amenity space in the form of a bronze box with two roof terraces. Using the existing concrete columns a new enclosure has been formed with glazed ends and a mezzanine spanning the middle of the space. Two former plant roof areas have also been turned into amenity decks with amazing views.
Residential rental sector’s 24 hour, 100% occupancy with no private parking has proven a boon to local traders with noticeable visual and retail offer improvements This space is accessible to all residents and available for local residents’ events.
While the scheme has not had the power to intervene in the public realm and tube exits – Vantage Point has acted as a catalyst for development by seeming to be new, bright and active. Surrounding post war blocks are also being reclad and TFL are re-paving roads, cycle ways and moving bus stops as part of a major upgrade of the former Archway gyratory.