“A bold piece of history in the making.” Building features Barts Square

21st January 2021

Barts Square is a mixed-use development in the City of London that features modern and traditional styles wholly in keeping with surroundings that date back a thousand years. It is almost as if it has always been there.

Approach the newly developed Barts Square from the south and the visitor is greeted by a shiny new all-glass office block. This barely merits a second glance given its location in London’s Square Mile, an area choked with all-glass office buildings.

Go around the office building and turn right, and the visitor will find themselves in a modest square among buildings that hark back to an era before the City became a global corporate centre. The office block steps down from 12 to 10 storeys and steps down again via an eight-storey neighbour away from the corporate City to a predominantly low-rise neighbourhood consisting of new, 19th- and 20th-century buildings.

Barts Square is a new, 3.2-acre development sandwiched between Smithfield Market, St Bartholomew’s Hospital and St Bartholomew the Great church, which was founded in 1123. Unusually for the City, it is mixed use, with 22,162m² of office space, 236 apartments occupying almost the same floor area as the offices and 1,962m² of ground-floor retail space.

The big office building, known as One Bartholomew, is the only glassy corporate block in this scheme, and this and two other buildings are the only ones outside the Smithfield conservation area. The rest of the scheme follows the tight urban grain of narrow streets and courtyards of the conservation area and is a blend of old and new but artfully done; the new buildings respect the modest plot widths of this area, historically one of narrow streets and courtyards.

Architecturally the new buildings are a blend of modern and traditional styles. What marks this scheme out is the level of attention paid to the detailing. A lot of time and care has gone into choosing the materials, including the bricks, which are a mix of London stocks, red bricks and an assortment of glazed bricks. The streets and courtyards are paved with honed York stone, limestone has been used to dress window reveals, and the quality of the workmanship is superb.

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