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, with the failed post war surroundings, empty shops and narrow pedestrian alleys, blighted development for many years. GRID was appointed to redevelop the tower for Residential Rental (sales not being permitted under the LUL freehold) with active and accessible street frontages, entrances, and improved microclimate. There were limitations on what could be done to the building as the lease extended only to the outside of the existing cladding so could be no extensions or balconies. Residential use was granted through Permitted Development (because that means was available) and the façade by detailed application.
The recladding was not just a wrap of new material - the carefully detailed façade respects the original ‘three slab’ massing and architectural characteristics; like solid end shear walls. Though the existing concrete frame is retained the high performance cladding of angled, light reflective, perforated aluminium and picture windows was designed to accommodate existing external structure and natural ventilation openings. It also had to be erected without scaffolding. Techniques to ‘brighten the building’ include big window cills to reflect the sky. To transform the over scaled, foreboding mass, the end walls ( formerly in black concrete ) were reclad in light stone.
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. 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.
The floor plans are London Plan compliant and the amenity space compensates for the loss of balconies. 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.